Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thank god this bailout didn't pass

There no doubts need to be some sort of bail out to keep the U.S. economy from collapsing, but not one dictated by Bush and rubber stamped by Congress.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ah, the progressiveness of the Seattle PI: Italian Festival Photo Essay

You have to hand it to the PI, devoting the first ten of 24 photos documenting the Italian festival in Seattle to an event called the grape stomp is probably a record in trivialization. It's wonderful that in covering an ethnic festival they thought that the most important thing was an even that you can laugh at. It shows how far people have to go, especially considering that there wasn't a real article devoted to it. White Seattleites will jump at being interested in any racial or ethnic group they deem sufficiently 'cool', but when it comes to people actually living life in the area with their traditions it's, like, so passe. I suppose that if Italians were a lost tribe of people from a hidden valley in Central Asia that they'd be the talk of the town.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Ruth Coniff 180

The Progressive columnist has gone from being condescending to workers, questioning whether the White Working Class could ever accept Obama, to writing columns about how the economy is in a nose dive and...and....those same people, who have been categorized by Coniff and others as whiter than they really are and much more racist than this several hundred million people block really are.....are the ones feeling it the hardest. Going from a condescending (and White) liberal deriding White (and working class) racism to a critic of the economy, yay Coniff! Hopefully progress is being made here now that Obama actually has the nomination and there are actually things to look at in national news besides this sort of navel gazing circle jerk of bloggers dissecting Obama's every twitch and people's responses to them.

Oh the poor Austrians

From The Guardian: "Today's expected results will be seen as a triumph for Strache, a politician who has made a virtue of being even tougher on immigrants than his party's former leader. Polls have suggested that substantial numbers of the young and elderly, blue-collar workers and middle classes will turn out to vote for the man who strengthened his popularity through slogans such as: 'If you want an apartment, all you need is a headscarf.'"

Although I know that some of the immigration to Austria is from Africa, which the Austro-Hungarian empire didn't really have anything to do with, I'm guessing that much of it is from former vassal states in central Europe, like states in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere. These days Vienna is much more accessible by car and is only a short plane ride from Moscow. So pity the poor Austrians who want to preserve the integrity of their nation from the former serfs and others coming into the former head of the "multi-national" empire.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The first Obama-McCain debate....Obama by a huge, overwhelming, landslide

McCain did so poorly it's almost laughable. Then again, they say that in the Nixon-Kennedy debate of '60 that people who listened to the radio thought that Nixon had won and people who saw it on TV thought that Kennedy had won, and I've just read the transcripts and haven't seen the footage. I'm trying to think of how to adequately describe McCain's performance from where I'm at....I think that a combination of cockroach scurrying when the kitchen light comes on, a hollowed out shell who's only capable of repeating Republican talking points and cliches, and an ADD kid pumped up with sugar screaming and jumping all over the place sums it up pretty well.

Although Obama made serious compromises, like describing Venezuela as a rogue state, as well as comments like, and I quote, " I have never said that I object to nuclear waste. What I've said is that we have to store it safely.", his capacity to actually be liberal, think, and come up with responses that haven't been covered by Regnery Press for the last sixteen years ensured a win over the joker that McCain has proven to be.

Everything from Petraeus to Vietnam to MIAs to spending finishing the job, winning with honor, etc.. etc.. etc..., and TAXES! TAXES! SPENDING! SPENDING! was trotted out. The first part of the debate was so weird because instead of talking about substantive issues occurring today McCain was fixated on cutting government waste and spending---but not through reducing the military budget or, it turned out, by committing to getting troops out of Iraq. Also, he wants to further decrease the business tax, as well as cutting potentially valuable but in the way he phrased it silly programs, like studying bear DNA in Montana. This is a tried and true tactic from ye olde '80s, which McCain invoked time after time with the holy name of Ronald Reagan on many issues.

Not only has McCain recycled right wing Vietnam and post-Vietnam rhetoric (like the false MIA issue), but he's on board with the Star Wars Defense Initiative, with the idea that it helped win the Cold War, with not meeting with rivals just like Ronny did when he revved the Cold War back up.

If Bush has proven the popularity of a secretive fascist rhetoric spewing vindictive moron, support of McCain would be an indicator of Americans desperately wanting their own right wing feel good bullshit irrespective of any objective conditions surrounding them.

*on edit: THE SURGE! THE SURGE! Funny thing about the Surge, well actually two funny things about it: first, that McCain failed to mention that The Surge decreased violence due to the enormous increase in violence that composed it, with the policy being a scorched earth one, not even considering what was happening between the Sunni and Shi'ia militias. Second, that the broadening of the strategy to also include more economic, political, and native Iraqi lead initiatives no where appeared in McCain's points in the debate. In fact, a person could be forgiven for thinking that if all of the other policies were brought up by Obama that McCain would attack him for wanting surrender--even though Bush himself endorsed them. Surge in the debate meant pure, unadulterated, steroidal raging military assault. Maybe McCain and people who support him should look up the example of Grozny in Chechnya and consider whether utterly destroying a city and its inhabitants constitutes victory.I don't want that sort of victory.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The American campaign--now an all spin zone. On both sides.

Because John McCain has suspended his participation in Presidential debates, along with that of Palin in her debate. I'm curious about when he plans to actually have the makeup debates since it's almost one month before the election itself. But pulling out from public discussions is an illness that's afflicting both campaigns this season. Obama, who had promised during the primary fight that he'd debate the Republican winner in town hall formats over the summer, has pulled out as well. In fact, the debates over the summer were aimed specifically at Clinton in that they were supposed to demonstrate the Obama campaign's commitment to grass roots democracy. Oh well.

Instead of honest, or least actual, discussion we're getting two dueling spin machines that are committed to keeping their candidates on message without actual unscripted answers and responses getting in the way. In many ways it appears inevitable that something like this would happen. The 2000 campaign was willfully contentless, with the debates being such dog and pony shows that at one point a moderator asked just what were the differences between Gore and Bush's positions? Because they had been agreeing with each other constantly. The 2004 election will probably be seen as the 9/11 election, since Kerry's determination to win with a similarly contentless campaign was trumped by Bush pulling out all the stops in his portrayal of himself as the Commander and Chief presiding over the Iraq war and over protecting the U.S. from further terrorism.

Now we're back on track to making this a fake, media soaked, democracy once again. The only hope I see is Obama's economic populism that he announced in his acceptance speech at the convention.

Laibach Volk tour in Seattle

Very good show. Went through the entire Volk album of altered national anthems in order, then played songs from WAT and one from NATO before taking bows and letting literal credits play on the video screens behind them.

If there was a doubt about whether or not Laibach are fascists or pro-fascist this tour should put it to an end. In particular, the big surprise, the video presentation behind "Italia", indicates it. First off, their version of the Italian national anthem mixes in "Avanti Populo", the Partisan and Communist song, in with the anthem itself. Second, it says "What god made you the slave of Rome?", a reference to the first stanza of the anthem, while playing shots of the evil people in Pasolini's film "Salo, or the 120 days of Sodom", which is both a reference to the Fascist Salo Republic of late World War II and to historical fascists as inhuman abusers of people. Salo features rape, torture, murder, forced eating of feces, general abuse, of young adults kidnapped and brought to a castle, held in captivity for the protagonists to use as they will.

Good film, definitely the darkest of Pasolini's career. It's good that Laibach know and like him.

The tour is almost over but if you're in, say, LA or New York, where they haven't played yet, I recommend going down and seeing them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Do we really have to support all the troops?

By which I don't mean that we should wish some troops harm, but instead this: should I really have to unconditionally support people who in the U.S. I would consider shit bags worthy of no respect whatsoever? The people I'm talking about are ultra-conservative, reactionary, semi-fascist folks who support Bush all the way and who think that the war on terror is completely justified. I don't support these people, I don't think anyone should support these people who are in Iraq and are true believers in the conservative cause. And there certainly are a fair share of them around military bases. Just judging by bumper stickers, well, I have to say that the most extreme conservative offensive bumper stickers I've seen have been around military bases. I'm not going to pretend to support the soldiers sporting them anymore than I would a chicken hawk fascist who put them on his truck.

The problem with the economic bailout in one phrase:

It doesn't dictate significant changes in regulation. The people doing the bailing out have expressed their confidence in the market system and in keeping the banking system the same with as little changes in regulation as possible. They also will not use their new power over the banks to dictate restructuring of how exactly they work. So they're saving the financial system, which I think a lot of commentators who are critical don't really acknowledge, but they're doing it in one of the most pro-corporate ways possible.

*on edit: there's also the issue of relief for people who have defaulted on their mortgages and who have had their homes seized or who are bankrupt but because of changes to bankruptcy laws can't declare it.

Hat tip for Ted Rall for pointing out edit concern.

* on edit #2: It seems that people, good fiscal conservatives, are saying that people shouldn't bail out these institutions at all, to which I say, you're fucking crazy. If having a need of 700 billion dollars to keep a financial system from collapsing doesn't convince you that something is wrong nothing will.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

You want some Muslim Terror with your paper?

According to Editor & Publisher more than 70 newspapers in swing states were distributing "Obsession DVD, which targets radical Muslims (and, some say, other Muslims by extension)" They had been paid to do this. Some people have objected, but the papers have tried to justify it on free speech rights---because these were advertiser provided and papers have the right to choose which advertisements they want. No matter that non-mainstream news and speech rarely makes it into regional papers, the sovereign rights and rites of advertisers must be respected. Even if it means distributing anti-Muslim hate literature to people in swing states a month before a Presidential election.

It's a lot like if the Nazis provided DVD copies of "Triumph of the Will" as paid advertisements in papers and then said papers tried to justify it by freedom of speech.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ayn Rand- ha!

Really can't believe that some people take her seriously. After posting the Rand article suggesting that she was more of a Pinochet fascist I looked back over one of her essays to make sure I wasn't being unfair. I stopped after the second paragraph, where she outright said that the UK under the postwar Labour government, Stalinist Russia, and Nazi Germany, were all the same political system. I laughed and laughed at that one. It's been alleged that Ms. Rand was an amphetamine junkie and this would explain some of her paranoia---the collectivists are going to get me! the collectivists are going to get me! waaah...;..social democracy is Stalinism!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Like shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

Did you know that that precedent wasn't actually derived from someone shouting fire in a crowded theater or anything near it? Instead, the precedent set started out in a case during World War I where a guy was handing out anti war pamphlets. This, the authorities reckoned, was like shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater and therefore justified arrest and censoring.

It's sort of like a reverse incitement to riot, only instead of inciting people to riot you're essentially inciting people to kick your ass and getting arrested for doing so. And they say free speech lives here.

Having a theater full of people catch on fire, possibly trapping and killing them, is a typical over the top 'example' designed to stop people from actually thinking about the principle itself and instead revert to basic survival instincts, therefore obscuring just what this principle does to free speech.

A comparable example would be the one justifying torture through the hypothetical situation of a nuclear bomb about to go off in a city in an hour and the one person who had the code to stop it being held in custody. Would you torture (or WOULD YOU LET MILLIONS OF PEOPLE DIE YOU COMMIE SCUMBAG!!!!!!!1!!!1!). It's not a very good argument, sort of like saying "Think of the Kittens".

Appeals to emotion aren't logic.

The reason that they're not is actually interesting, it's because the particular emotional appeals have nothing to do specifically with the case in question. You can write an emotional appeal for anything, without it actually justifying anything. Real arguments say 'because of x, y is, for reason z'. Murder is wrong......because ending someone's life is wrong. Murder is wrong ....because ending someone's life for no reason is wrong. Murder is wrong because ending someone's life when they aren't threatening your life is wrong. All of these are examples of actual arguments, some relatively general others more specific. Something that's not an argument, or that would be false argument, would be Murder is wrong because because if you commit murder it'll lead to hordes of mindless murdering zombies running the streets killing anything in their path and breaking into army bases and firing missiles at American cities then detonating an H-Bomb over New York City.

That isn't an argument because although no one wants any of those things to happen you haven't said why that would happen.

Great Alexander Cockburn article on the economy

From Counterpunch.org:

"In 1999 John McCain’s friend and now his closest economic counselor, then a senator from Texas, was the prime Republican force pushing through the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. It repealed the old Glass-Steagall Act, passed in the Great Depression, which prohibited a commercial bank from being in the investment and insurance business. President Bill Clinton cheerfully signed it into law.

A year later Gramm, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, attached a 262-page amendment to an omnibus appropriations bill, voted on by Congress right before a recess. The amendment received no scrutiny and duly became the Commodity Futures Modernization Act which okayed deregulation of investment banks, exempting most over the counter derivatives, credit derivatives, credit defaults, and swaps from regulatory scrutiny. Thus were born the scams that produced the debacle of Enron, a company on whose board sat Gramm’s wife Wendy. She had served on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1983 to 1993 and devised many of the rules coded into law by her husband in 2000."

....

But is he Exhibit A? No. That honor should surely go to Robert Rubin and to the economic course he set for his boss, the eagerly complicit Bill Clinton. Gramm has been the hireling of the banking industry. Rubin is at the beating heart of Wall Street finance, and he and Lawrence Summers at Clinton’s Treasury, were the guiding forces for financial deregulation.

Obviously the Republicans hoped that the roof wouldn’t fall in on their watch, and the crisis could be deferred to 2008 and then blamed on the Democrats. But their insurance policy was that if the roof did cave, as it has now, the rescue policy would be identical in both cases. That’s why Obama has collected more money than McCain from the big Wall Street houses.

The gang that successfully got out of Dodge in time was the Clinton-Rubin-Summers gang, just before the last bubble -–the stock market bubble -- burst in March of 2001. They knew what was coming."

I remember when the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act happened. The big reason for it happening was the desire of Citicorp, formerly CitiBank, to aquire an insurance firm. A quick search yields that it was Travelers Group. Let's let Rubin's Wiki page tell us what happened then:

"In 1999, affirming his career-long interest in markets, Mr. Rubin joined Citigroup. Of note, the supermerger between Travelers Group and Citicorp was facilitated by the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act). This legislation was passed under the Clinton administration, days before Rubin's resignation. "

Of course, there was no corruption involved there. Rubin was one of the people, along with Lawrence Summers and Allen Greenspan (as Cockburn notes), who oversaw the financial rape of Russia through privatization as well as who helped the IMF implement its "shock therapy" prgorams of complete deregulation in exchange for essential money to keep governments from completely collapsing. Rubin was one of the reasons that the WTO was protested.

In These Times pans the Battle in Seattle

Because the WTO film didn't even make one reference to Obama.

Today's vastly inappropriate picture: the website of the Islamabad Marriott

While looking for news about the bombing of the Islamabad Marriott I found that Marriott itself hadn't altered its page, and so I got a screen cap of it.

Islamabad Marriott Website

Click through to a bigger version.

The text:

The Marriott Islamabad is located at the foot steps of Margalla hills, and is close to Rawal Lake & the town centre, President & Prime Minister's House, Foreign Missions, World Bank, and Government Offices. Choice of smoking and non-smoking rooms, suites and executive level rooms equipped with modem ports. The Health Club offers separate gyms for ladies and gents , sauna and steam bath, all-weather swimming pool. There is a round-the-clock Business Centre, as well as 32000 square feet of banquet facilities that can cater to the needs of 15 to 1500 people.

Hotel Highlights
Computers with broadband connectivity at Deluxe and executive floors.
Located with hill view and city view.
Located at town center with best choice of restaurants.
Marriott Rewards category: 3

Maps & Transportation >>
Parking
Complimentary on-site parking
Complimentary valet parking
Off-site parking; contact hotel for details

Visitor's Guide: Islamabad
Top Attractions
Faisal Mosque
Margalla Hills
Rose & Jasmine Garden

Deals at this Hotel >>
Receive Marriott Specials & Packages by email. Sign up now

Guest Rooms in Detail >>
Newly renovated deluxe rooms with view and p4 computer, broadbant internet, 42" plasma screen tv.
Electronic Safe Deposit Box in each room
Branded Computer with High Speed Internet Connection in each room on Executive Floor
All Room Door has an Electronic Locking System

High-speed Internet access
Public Areas
Wired, Wireless

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The consequences of the U.S. economic downfall

Were thought to be the abandonment of a free market based neoliberal system of economy, according to "Pathology of the U.S. Economy Revisited" and according to our class. This financial disaster that has been brewing for years and years is a perfect example of why unregulated capitalism is not self sustaining. The scheme that came tumbling down was a combination of over extended credit and risky second mortgage loans that depended on a constantly inflating housing bubble to be viable. When the bubble popped the mortgages popped with it, and along with the people getting evicted from their homes because they can no longer pay their mortgage bills go all of the investors who gambled on mortgages, who invested in mortgages and traded them between themselves in the hope of getting a good piece of the pie. And with them goes the interlocked pieces of the finance world that incorporated mortgage futures and mortgages themselves, that are now weakened and failing because of it.

Predatory lending has already hit but I think I misspoke when I said that the credit bubble has really broken as part of the housing decline. When all of this starts impacting people to the point where they can't cover their credit card bills we'll really be in trouble. That time may be coming soon if the economic instability of the financial sector does in fact boil over into the economy as a whole.

And yet Paulson of the Treasury Department acts as the only options were to bail the banks out with a promise of no new regulation or let the financial world implode. Regulations keeping the pursuit of short term gain from sabotaging long term economic stability aren't in the offing. And despite everything the crisis isn't seen as a crisis of capitalism as a whole since at the present time the chaos is relatively in check. Things are getting harder for people in a general sort of way, we've been in a recession for a long time now, but the problems haven't manifested in a striking way in everyday life like they have in the financial sector.

Once that moment comes I think people will begin losing faith in the market as a whole and will stop thinking that socialism is such an infringement on their liberties.

What all of this adds up to is that those economic liberties, the liberty to be a completely self determining economic entity who can have the American dream through mortgaging his house and running up his charge cards, the liberty to not have to depend on unions for your daily bread, are going to increasingly be revealed to be the untenable pipe dreams that they are. It lasted a while when the U.S. was on the top of the economic heap but now that real constraints are coming into being it's unaffordable and unsustainable.

Friday, September 19, 2008

So the financial system has almost collapsed

Not to repeat what a whole bunch of other people have written, it's not like we couldn't have seen this coming. In fact, not only did we see this coming but there was an entire book, Pathology of the U.S. Economy Revisited by Michael Perelman describing this very scenario. Not only that but in the summer of 2004 I took a class in economics, albeit radical economics, whose whole premise was based on something like this was going to occur.

It's kind of hard to say we didn't see it coming when entire fucking college classes have been based around the prediction of this.
I mean, seriously, although it wasn't the exclusive focus of the course we spent hours of seminar time discussing this and what the economics behind a collapse like this would consist of.

------>This is it <---------


I would at this point bring up the fact that Pierre Proudhon said that "Property is theft" but there are likely to be very few copies of this even in large metro areas, like maybe three in the entire Bay Area unless I'm seriously underestimating things.

And although it would be entertaining to see some large representatives of the University of California system get mercilessly ripped off this is an activity that I cannot condone.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Vice Presidential Debate

On Oct 2nd Palin will debate Joe Biden. This is something that I'm avidly waiting for, because we all pretty much know what the result will be: public humiliation of Palin at the hands of a guy who although a corporate centrist has years and years of experience in the U.S. Senate. Including on the Foreign Relations Committee.

The first Presidential Debate is next Friday at 9:00 Eastern time. I'm waiting for that, too, because after Obama pulling out of the challenge for eight debates that he had previously agreed to there haven't been very many opportunities to see them engage each other in a formal way. There was the Church Debate, but that's about it. It'll be interesting to see Obama actually going to bat for his positions on record. The acceptance speech introduced a good note of populism into the campaign. It remains to be seen if this will continue.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Charles Mudede, Hegel, Nietzsche, Zizek

In a recent Stranger column Charles Mudede started out by comparing Zizek to Nietzsche by saying that even though Zizek says that his favorite philosopher is Hegel he seems more like Nietzsche because Hegel is "Old labor" while Nietzsche is "Like dancing". The truth of the matter is that Nietzsche was a stylist on top of being a philosopher while Hegel cut through the shit and just philosophized. Personally, I would go for the philosopher that seemed to me to be closest to the truth about existence, but, hey, style counts for something, right? I think that the preference for Nietzsche, not on Mudede's part but on the part of the hipster community in general, is due to the fact that on top of being misanthropic it's style allows you not to think as much and be less intellectually engaged. You can read Nietzsche as an entertaining, satirical, theorist, while not getting the full impact and significance of what he's saying, whereas with Hegel it's pretty clear a few sentences into any work of his that you're going to have to struggle and think to get something out of it 'cause he's not going to entertain you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Seattle art culture and Gabriele D'Annunzio

D'Annunzio being an Italian writer who had terrible politics yet wrote well and who provided an anecdote about the relation of artists to patron's that useful for evaluating the Seattle arts scene. Basically, D'Annunzio, before the rise of Fascism in Italy, was having dinner at the home of a famous patron of the arts who liked to set up elaborate salon-like encounters between artists, herself, and other guests. D'Annunzio was eating and not talking much, eating and not talking much, and finally the patroness asked him straight out about some aspect of one of his books. D'Annunzio replied something along the lines of "I write, you feed me". The meaning of which is that he was an actual artist, she was just an interested socialite, and he didn't want to give her the time of day or prop her up by making her think she was something other than that. There's a similar phenomenon in parts of the Seattle artworld, where folks who make their living in the IT industry and who live on the East Side, the name for the very rich ex-urbs that include Redmond, periodically get the idea in their heads that they can be artists. They take classes at the Gage Academy, which is a laughably traditional institution that's willing to provide an air of snobbery and rigid academic art making to anyone willing to pony up the cash, and make their little drawings or paintings, and expect to not only be taken seriously but to be accorded the same respect they get in real life where they pull down six figures. Which is not to say that they couldn't make good art, but, quite honestly, there are many more of them out there who completely suck than there are folks who actually have talent....and they don't understand it when you decide not to kiss their ass thoroughly and completely, I mean, like, you don't even wear a dress shirt! How dare you question me and my art skills! Idiots.

Gage Academy is a cancer on the Seattle art scene, something that turns out useless fuckers who have either had their spirits crushed by it or who have given in to their point of view. There are other institutions that are much better, but you'll have to find those on your own. I'm not going to give you any hints.

With people from Bellevue, or, heck, let's include Kirkland as well as über elite Mercer Island, where Bill Gates lives, increasingly my attitude is that it's okay if they spend lots of money on art but let's be serious: don't pretend you're an artist. Please. Please don't. Just buy art and be content to be a patron and art fancier.

And the nature of the tech industry doesn't provide the best financing for artists in Seattle either. The scuttlebutt is that more Seattle artists sell work outside of Seattle than inside of it, to people all over the country. They just opened a Science Fiction museum in Seattle, but people with money here tend to like pretty landscapes and city scenes as opposed to actual non-hokey, valuable, art. So we have the failing of the American educational system right in front of us: people who can program anything yet who don't really have that much knowledge of the liberal arts in general, which includes Art History.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hmm...so Peter Camejo was a cofounder of the Green Party

According to his Obituary. I did not know this, I'm fairly certain that many other people didn't know this, and that's interesting for the following reason: Camejo was Nader's running mate in 2004, and what folks were saying online in articles, if they were saying anything, was that Nader had chosen someone obscure from California who nobody knew anything about. But if you read his obituary it's clear that for someone obscure he's been extremely active in social justice movements for forty years. The kind of "who the fuck is Camejo?" articles seem pretty stupid in retrospect, kind of evidence that the online and blogging community can't even lift a finger to do real research when the subject isn't one they like.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Homage to Burroughs

It's no secret here that I love William S. Burroughs. One of the reasons is that up till the very end he remained engaged in doing new work, exploring new avenues of thought, trying out things, grappling with basic problems that run through his entire ouvre.
Burroughs was accessible to people in the New York punk scene after he had returned to New York, and not just because he wrote about heroin and was darker and more sarcastic than the rest of the beats. Where was Ginsberg during the punk scene? My guess is that he was concerned with being 'Ginsberg' with a big 'G', pointing back to glories of the fifties and sixties in speeches and performances, content to exist as an icon, something that by definition implies that the work, the real work, has already completed itself and is in the past. Some icons, the up and comers, we have hope for, but for icons who try to embody a whole cultural movement it's not further glories we expect but contact with the previous era. But you can't be 'Ginsberg' with a big 'G' and also be accessible to punk guys on the lower east side. Burroughs was, although an underground celebrity.

Burroughs never really broke in the same way that Ginsberg and, to say the least, Kerouac, did during the '90s glut of rehashed celebrities. He appeared in a Ministry video, made a spoken word album with Kurt Cobain, and appeared in a Nike ad. David Cronenberg made a movie based on his life, but it wasn't a fawning biopic but a film like a Burroughs story, where fantasy and reality blend into each other in grotesque and unexpected ways, leaving more questions than pat answers. This is not really 'breaking' although he was thrust into the spotlight. Then in the summer of '97 he died, after living a long life.

Unbeknownst to many of the new followers, including me, Burroughs had made a serious theoretical turn in the mid '70s that lead to the strategies and ideas present in the 'Cities of the Red Night' trilogy, starting off with 'The Wild Boys' and going from there. Both Naked Lunch and the Nova trilogy of cut up books were in the past. Burroughs had lived in Mexico, London, Spain, Morocco, had had enough scandal to last a lifetime, but wasn't content to rest on his laurels and receive praise without coming up with something more to offer people.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Music of the Times

Just burned a CD, the contents of which include Laibach, Ministry, Lard, The Cramps, one song by Current 93, and David Bowie.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

When will we stop taking this shit? Seventh anniversary of 9/11

I've been surfing through The Progressive magazine's McCarthyism Watch, which provides detailed documentation of the worst (publicized) civil liberties infringements of, well of the last ten or so years. The column started before Bush and 9/11 but since then it's experienced a bumper crop of reports. Let's see, there's David Zirin, a sports writer who integrates the social dimensions of sports into his columns in creative ways, who was surveilled while participating in an anti-Death Penalty group in Maryland that just set up a table in a farmer's market and gathered signatures. There's the guy in San Francisco who was pulled over and ticketed because he had a "No to empire" sticker on the rear windshield of his car. A Cal state professor who was fired for not signing a loyalty oath left over from the McCarthy period itself, that it seems lots of people ignore without any consequences. Then the ultimate end to the Critical Arts Ensemble story where a guy who was constructing an installation art project that involved the use of test tubes, lab equipment, and DNA was indicted for terrorism when paramedics came to help his wife, who was having a heart attack. Possibly because of the stress of the whole thing, Kurtz himself is now seriously ill with cancer, cited as one of the reasons that they let him off easy.

I was staying at a hostel in Florida, which was then my turf, when I encountered a pompous English guy talking about the ramifications of 9/11, justifying all the steps that Bush had taken. He was pompous because, first, he was representing himself as a hip, nice guy, and second because he was clearly depending on his English accent to give him some sort of authority. After being challenged about what the actions by the government following 9/11 could do to our civil liberties on both the national and local levels he answered that theoretically it could empower local Mussolini's but that that was a kind of marginal consequence that wouldn't really matter in the long run. I'm sure he thought that using the name "Mussolini" instead of Hitler would impress the stupid American Colonial that he was talking with. Well, here we are seven years after 9/11 and we're still tolerating our local and national Mussolini's fucking with our rights, and we're expected to give deference to reactionary redneck morons who act superior to us because of their approval of torture.

How long will we let this go on? How long will we be pushed around like blobs of jelly by these people who have exploited 9/11 for their own benefit? Another seven years? Ten? Fifteen? As long as they're on the attack? The Department of Heimat Security, our local fascists, they have no moral standing, and we should visibly and consistently oppose them at every juncture, from demonstrations to lawsuits, until they've taken such a battering that they decide that it's not good to fuck with us anymore.

People need to stop being protoplasm and start standing up for themselves.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pet peeve:

When someone uses the phrase "Good for the Jews" or "Is it good for the Jews?" to refer to someone's policy on Israel.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Justifying Socialism Part 4

Following on parts one,two, and three.

Cooperation, individual responsibility.

In American politics the view from the Right contrasts the idea of individual responsibility with what they see as the state taking care of people, the sort of mommy state. Socialism in their estimation represents the furthest extension of that kind of state. Whether or not that idea is right regarding modern liberalism, it isn't on target regarding socialism. Socialism includes individual responsibility but it also adds responsibility as a member of a community, of a neighborhood, city, state and ultimately country, although not in an abstracted sense but in one that's very real. Think of it as a kind of extension of the feelings for the family in terms of collective survival to a broader sphere, which incidentally does not negate the family sphere itself. In society right now, and in socialist society in the future, we all depend on one another in our capacity as workers and as consumers, as producers and consumers. It's just that this isn't recognized in our current state. We depend on each other all the time through work. If pure competition was how things were structured we'd never be able to make society work because everyone would be undercutting the work of everyone else in the attempt to get ahead.

Mutual responsibility implies individual responsibility. It's easier to just isolate yourself from society, from your neighborhood, town, city, state, and just focus on your individual life than it is to live your life while also paying attention to the communities that you participate in, whether you recognize your participation or not. Socialism represents collective self management. That said, duty and cooperation have their sphere, the individual has his or her sphere, the family has its sphere, personal life has its sphere. Mutual responsibility does not imply that this responsibility takes over all aspects of life. A good socialist society wouldn't coerce maximum social involvement either, but at this point the collective aspects of socialism contrast with how our society is officially structured, making it seem as if forced participation or some sort of forced obedience is the only thing that all of this could mean.

Zinn on American Empire

And how it's declining. From Common Dreams:

"Q: Where is the United States heading in terms of world power and influence?

HZ: America has been heading - for some time, and is heading right now - toward less and less world power, less and less influence.

Obviously, since the war in Iraq, the rest of the world has fallen away from the United States, and if American foreign policy continues in the way it has been - that is aggressive and violent and uncaring about the feelings and thoughts of other people - then the influence of the United States is going to decline more and more.
This is an empire which is on the one hand the most powerful empire that ever existed; on the other hand an empire that is crumbling - an empire that has no future ... because the rest of the world is alienated and simply because this empire is top-heavy with military commitments, with bases around the world, with the exhaustion of its own resources at home.

[This is] leading to more and more discontent and home, so I think the American empire will go the way of other empires and I think it is on its way now."

I'm glad that Howard Zinn is saying this. I haven't been keeping up on things on the Zinn and Chomsky fronts but I know that in most of the Progressive blogosphere their opinions have been missing in action. Bringing up the idea that the U.S. is a declining empire is a breath of fresh air. Previously, it was only people like the staff at The eXile who were making the claim, the problem there being that although they were and are spot on no one reads the eXile in the Progressive world and few had even heard about its existence before the Putin government cracked down on them after publishing for 11 years in Moscow. I've read it for about a year and a half. Zinn is deservedly well known, one of the pillars of the American left/American progressive movement.

One of the measures that I think reveals just why the U.S. is a declining empire is the difference between the perceptions of people inside the United States about how the U.S. is and the perceptions of people outside the U.S. about it, as measured by comparing journalism. It's understandable that they wouldn't really understand because they didn't grow up here, don't live here, but it's striking how even publications that in the U.S. are considered progressive, like the Guardian in England, get it wrong. They have the initiative to cover the U.S. in a different way than by repeating the talking points picked up from U.S. publications but they ultimately have to fall back on said points at the end of the day in order to make sense of all of it.

To many people outside of the U.S. the country is a nice place where good, salt of the earth, people live in a thrifty but somewhat luxurious lifestyle. Inside the U.S. there are whole regions where random violence against outsiders and racial minorities not only happens but isn't punished by the authorities. The U.S. media is in a tail spin, with content pretty much totally destroyed and replaced with things like reality shows about midgets who are also farmers. Literacy is way down, so that although everyone can read very few people now read books after they graduate from high school, or college, and the number who read several books a year, to say nothing of things like non-fiction like history or academic titles, is very low, although of course this varies widely across different areas of the country. Use of psychiatric medications is through the roof, fed by a culture that wants to give you a pill instead of dealing with the underlying problem.Primary schools are dumbed down through standardized test requirements that encourage math and basic english but that don't encourage real world problem solving, abstract thought, or critical thought. In college it's even worse, with many schools having given up on really educating people and instead focussing on trying to lessen the damage done by these students to society in general by giving them some basic skills.

We're fucked, in other words. Like William S. Burroughs in his routine about the U.S. called Dinosaurs, we are ugly stupid bellowing beasts. Some of us are thirty feet long and have a brain the size of a walnut. Where can this end?

It will probably end with Europe, Russia, and China owning our asses and South America collectively being the new up and coming force in the world.

Monday, September 08, 2008

I'm glad that McCain's the nominee

Despite the fact that he said we'd be in iraq for a hundred years if necessary. Things could be much, much, worse, Romney or Huckabee could have gotten the nomination. We have the good people of New Hampshire to thank for that not becoming a reality. I've written previously about how the primaries of New Hampshire and of Iowa have an importance that's exaggerated beyond justification, the reason being that these two states aren't representatives of good old American values as a whole but increasingly out of step with the demographics and population of the country. However, New Hampshire retains a certain small 'c' conservatism based in New England skepticism that made the right choice about the conservative nominee. What they did was to use that value to say no to radical nominees who may have continued Bush's work into another four years. McCain was the sane nominee among a crowd of people who went from relatively insane to batshit crazy, and people in New Hampshire picked up on this and voted accordingly.

And all this stuff about Palin, about Palin being a loose gun possibly Bush like figure, it's really not all that important, because Palin looks increasingly like window dressing for the radical conservative constituency who likes Bush's rhetoric. She may become Vice President but she most probably won't have any of the powers that Cheney had during the Bush administration. McCain will be the one in charge, no matter how often Palin shoots her mouth off.

Of course, at this point, Obama is the one to vote for if you vote, but it's reassuring in some way that the alternative isn't someone as radical as Bush, although of course you never know what might happen once he gets into office.

Justification for socialism part 3

Building on parts one and two. Socialist programs versus social welfare programs.

A huge issue in the United States is whether or not it's right for the tax dollars of people from all over the spectrum to support programs only used by the poor. The poor really need these programs, things like subsidized housing, somewhat government sponsored health care, and food programs, and what used to be 'welfare' in the generic sense, that is subsidies to families with young children who are poor. However, the presence of these stop gap programs gives the impression of creating a two tiered system where folks don't really care about you if you're poor but not destitute and then if you become destitute and desperate bingo, you get government money! A socialist society would resolve this problem by extending social services and benefits to a large, large segment of the population, making things like health care and housing support programs that have popular participation in them. When benefits are extended not just to the most destitute but to poor people in general, and then not just to the poor but to the working class as a whole, and possibly up to that fuzzy boundary where middle class and working class meet, the bitterness of the poor about being shut out of these programs will likely dissolve, as will the perception that it's only 'parasites living off the system' that these things benefit. Conversely, it could take the stigma, at least some of it, away from the recipients of such aid.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Justifying Socialism Part II

In Part One I outlined some basic concepts. One of the objections to socialism is that the government would tax everything, making it hard on people. In most versions of socialism, from the less radical to the really radical and thoroughgoing this is not the case. Instead, workers would make more money since employee income would be increased at the expense of managerial and executive income, to say nothing about ownership income. Society as a whole is considered to have an interest in the property making up companies, and some of the revenue from companies would automatically go to a social fund from which universal social programs, like health care, pensions, subsidized housing, and education, would draw their money. The intent with the social contribution would be to spread it over society as a whole in a just way so that businesses that don't make much money, like small businesses in general, wouldn't feel as much of a pinch as would bigger businesses. In liberal society, which is where we live in even though 'liberal' has become a bad word in the U.S., it's not necessarily clear where exactly taxes go to and why, making taxes a perennial political issue. In a socialist society, on the other hand, it would be very clear where the taxes go to because they would come back to citizens in the form of non-cash benefits, like free health care.

The point isn't to make society poor, least of all make workers poor, but to redistribute funds so that the people who do the lion's share of the work get more money than they have made before and to break down barriers that keep people vulnerable to market fluctuations by establishing a universal social income policy.

Justifying Socialism

I recognize that I've written a lot about socialism but not that much which tries to justify it from a clear base.

For me, one of the ways that I think about socialism is in contrast to the normal idea of the cash wage in exchange for work, where a person does a job, gets paid, and then doesn't have any more interest in whatever it was he or she has made. In the classical liberal doctrine people work, they get money that they can then use to buy property, and all the government does is enforce laws and maybe provide some basic services that have been deemed essential for the private economy to continue.

Socialism, on the other hand, can be seen as coming from the point of view that because workers have made almost everything in society, and continue to maintain it, that they therefore have a compelling interest in society as a whole. I think that the people who orchestrate things, and that plan out products and strategies in selling, have something to do with making society as a whole but that in the current situation their share is completely and totally over valued while the share that workers get is completely undervalued, undervalued as much as people can get away with.

A person can work in a factory or in a business that constantly either produces something or performs a service to others, yet at the end of the day the only relationship between the business and them in terms of compensation is the wage. Benefits might come eventually, but they're still just fringe benefits. The folks who do this have no interest in the wealth that the business brings in and no interest in the direction of the business or in how their conditions effect them. Multiply that to include the whole of society and you have a state of affairs where although people make and maintain society they're shut out from decision making about where it should go and are shut out from truly sharing in their wealth, something that's reserved for the owners of capital alone and not for the people who make the stuff that they sell.

Socialist benefits, socialist control over society, socialist decision making, correct this inequity by abolishing the claim of absolute property rights, making the wealth of society the possession of society as a whole, and abolishing the wage as the only claim for personal compensation, and by abolishing the division between labor and management as to who gets a say in running things.

Joseph Beuys

Been watching interviews with Joseph Beuys, conceptual artist from Germany who was active from the '50s up to his death in the '80s. In particular, the record of his first talk/discussion given in New York City in the early '70s. Here is a guy who made the biggest breakthrough in conceptual art since Marcel Duchamp, who in his talk said that he believed in "Freedom, Democracy, and Socialism" and that each of those depended on the other for their true realization, and he's called a fascist by one of the students for having an idea of art that was different and more abstract than that which audiences of the time were familiar with, that came out of the philosophical tradition of 19th century Germany. Basically, it comes off as appearing that they disagreed with him not because of anything he said, because they don't seem to understand what he's trying to say, but because he was German and more knowledgeable than them. There was, however, enough meat before the disruptions to get an idea of what he was talking about, but the trend of abuse crescendoed after his departure from NYC in a denunciation by an academic named Bachloch that labeled him politically incorrect, a proto-fascist, and insufficiently contrite about world war II and Nazi germany. It's for that reason that Beuys isn't known in the U.S. although he's regarded as one of the most important post-war artists in Germany.

Let me repeat that: Beuys, in talking about his ideas on art, talked about the necessity of freedom, democracy, and socialism to be linked and took it further by saying that there needed to be a way to make creativity a part of people's lives as a whole so that society wouldn't be broken up into people given the permission to be creative and those not given it. Similarly, the idea of creativity was broadened to include meaningful work in general in order to oppose social alienation, an idea from the Young Marx that was a central tenant of the New Left.

Yet, surprisingly, when he was labeled a fascist he started to get angry and agitated.

So what was Beuy's idea of art besides how art as part of the creative process could lead to the transformation of society? His works are conceptual, but rely on a sort of confidence in meaning that artists in the United States and elsewhere have lost. Duchamp is where most of our ideas about installation art come from, and that tradition emphasizes economy of expression and doubt about the range of ideas that can in fact be communicated. Beuys, on the other hand, integrates common associations stemming from regular experience of objects and substances into his art so that the sculpture or installation generates a kind of mental space or swarm of mental associations around it that enables the art to transcend simple formal meaning and instead to bring into it the full range of ideas associated with painting and sculpture in its less-than-completely-abstract forms; this is very impressive considering that some of his installations are composed of things like metal rods arranged in a semi-circle, with maybe another piece of metal over them. It could be said that his works are examples of conceptual thought that don't rely on literary or linguistic strategies to communicate meaning. What I mean by that is that some of abstract art and much of conceptual art communicates through formal elements corresponding to thoughts being arranged in a way more like a code than like a pre-abstract painting. And it doesn't really communicate concepts either when the original techniques are applied in a stiff and formulaic way.

Yet we have the fruit of post-structuralism in the art world, which has created barren, faux-ironic, shit wherever it's reached maturity, and Beuys is unknonwn. I'm curious if there's a connection between his unknown-ness in the United States and the ascendency of the type of criticism that lauds stiff formalism, whether the latter, in fact, come from a common conceptual matrix.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bhutto's husband wins the Presidency!

A great day for democracy, from the New York Times:

"Acquittal and Amnesty

Pakistan’s high commissioner in London, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, who was recently appointed by Mr. Zardari and is a longtime friend, said Mr. Zardari was now healthy. Mr. Zardari was one of more than a dozen people accused of a conspiracy in 1996 to kill Ms. Bhutto’s brother, a political opponent of Mr. Zardari and Ms. Bhutto. The high court in Sindh Province, Mr. Zardari’s political base, acquitted him in the murder case in April.

Last week, a Swiss prosecutor dismissed a case in which Mr. Zardari and Ms. Bhutto were found guilty in 2003 on money laundering charges involving illegal commissions they had received from two Swiss companies, Cotecna and Société Générale de Surveillance. The court ordered them to return $12 million to the Pakistani government.

The Pakistani government dropped the charges this year, after Mr. Zardari and Ms. Bhutto had been offered an amnesty on their corruption charges. The Swiss authorities said that they could no longer pursue the case and that they would release $60 million of Mr. Zardari’s funds.

...

A report on private banking and money laundering in the United States, done for the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1999, cited allegations that some of Mr. Zardari’s Citibank accounts were used to “disguise $10 million in kickbacks for a gold importing contract in Pakistan.” The report said that Mr. Zardari had accumulated $40 million in Citibank accounts. He denied the charges, and the head of the gold company identified in the report denied he had paid bribes."



Serves stupid Americans right, although one of the stories about his assumption of the Presidency features a group of Bhutto supporters, one holding a picture of her up and another raising a fist. Because of that, the epic corruption charges against the current President (yay nepotism!) may not even reach the Bhutto praising masses who swallowed the propaganda hook line and sinker and stupidly wrote sugary obituaries to a woman most had never heard of before, some buying her book in the process, which in the official American mourning for the embezzling and shopping former President major bookstores featured in store displays.

Sort of like the big flub on Ossetia and Georgia. Folks wrote and wrote about an area that they really hadn't heard of, then were shown up/ are continually being shown up by Cheney, Bush, and Rice whole heartedly endorsing Georgia against Russia to the point where even a casual, non-political, observer probably would suspect a political motivation.

America should hold back the tears and turn on the critical thinking about what's spoonfed to it through the media and the Executive Branch.

Otherwise, the world will continue to look at us as naive morons.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Florida was my sandbox

No pun intended. The question of how someone gets from Michigan to the West Coast is a good one. The answer, at least for me, is in stages. Florida is a straight shot down from Detroit. Literally the only thing you have to do is get on I-75 and go south and a day and a half later (if you stop for the night) you'll be in south Florida. I had been to Florida many times before because my grandparents owned a trailer down there that they stayed in during the winter, in the Florida Keys. The trips to Florida started when I was a kid and went on from there, visiting them during various holidays taking place in the winter months. When I moved to Florida most of my immediate family was living down there, with my parental unit making the shitty choice to sell our house while I was in college and move there to 'help out' with the Grandparents. Right... So when I dropped out of college I theoretically had two choices: the first was to stay in Detroit, the Detroit area, by myself, work, and live, or move down to Florida where my family moved anyways, with the open potential of sponging off of them. The full, real, story was more complex than that, and less heroic sounding, but we'll let this version of it sit for now. Anyways.

Dropping out of college and moving to Florida was at the time one of the most radical actions that I could have imagined doing at the time in terms of what to do with my life. So by doing that I was already at the end of my line for that particular moment in my life. But of course in time you get acclimatized to what you're surrounded by and you start to look for other frontiers to explore. After adventures in Florida, including many good political stuff on the local and national level, the local being in Gainesville Florida, I started looking at where I could travel in a decent amount of time by car, and started going places. First was New Orleans. Then Austin, Texas. Then back to New York City for the first time after leaving my first college there. I took a day trip to Boston and Cambridge. In the process went to DC for a second time for a Progressive conference and then tourism. Finally went to Miami Beach and then Vienna, Austria, where I stayed for a week letting it sink into my bones. During this time I traveled all over Florida, all over. Saint Augustine was fairly close, close enough for a comfortable day trip; Saint Petersburg and Tampa were a slightly longer day trip away, and were the closest major cities to me, and so I spent an increasing amount of time there, particularly in St. Pete, which is a kick as beach town. Orlando too, although Orlando was not as cool or interesting as people may think. I tended not to spend as much time there because it was just as long a drive as Tampa but with less of a pay off. Being in Central Florida, which is sort of part of the Bible Belt of Florida, Orlando has quite a different vibe than the beach bum, international tourist, feeling of the Tampa/St. Petersburg. Also, there's no water there. St. Petersburg is fairly dripping with gay culture as well, which is a plus even though I didn't directly partake of it. All of these experiences prepared me to take a next step.

Having already moved to Florida it was less of a decision to move to some other really cool place in the rest of the country. I have to admit, though, that I was more nervous catching my first flight to Seattle to check out Evergreen in Olympia than I was going to Austria where I didn't speak the language and worked from phrase books and memory of conjugation from way, way, back in school. The reason was that unlike Austria, Washington Oregon Seattle Port Townsend and finally Olympia were going to be permanently surrounding me. There would be no coming back. But if you told me that I would actually be living on the West Coast, in the Pacific Northwest, three years earlier, when I had just moved to Florida, I would of thought you were kidding. Of course it would be a nice idea a nice dream, something to think about and sigh over, but actually doing that? You'd have to be fucking nuts. Yet the safety and the relative making it work in Florida in terms of not going bat shit crazy or being killed reassured me that making another, more radical, move would be a possibility that could work.

The real question is how I got from living and growing up in semi-rural Michigan to getting into a position where I could move to Florida. I moved from rural town to the central metropolis of Detroit before making the move. How that happened will have to be the subject of another blog post.

Ayn Rand more of a fascist in the Pinochet sense than in the Nazi or Italian Fascist sense

In a previous article I made the wrong move of suggesting that Rand was an out and out fascist because she believed in an essentially social darwinistic society, complaining about the Üntermenschen who were dragging down the productive workers (who were the capitalists and scientists). Someone e-mailed it to one of the directors of the Ayn Rand Institute and many LOL's occurred as we went back and forth about whether or not Rand really was a Fascist. I had to concede that Fascism as classically structured was not a free-market system and that it did have collectivist features, although not nearly as many as a real socialist economy. But perhaps we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water; after all, there have been regimes that have combined fascist social ethics with much less emphasis on anything collective, one of which was Chile under Pinochet. Pinochet, after seizing power and slaughtering opponents who had been corralled into a football stadium, imported economists from the Chicago school, lead by Milton Friedman, as consultants on how to restructure the society that was in danger of becoming too beneficial to the collective under Allende. They advocated pure free market controls on foreign investment and internal economic life enforced by a very unfree secret police force loyal to the military Junta. 'Communist subversion' was outlawed, as well as elections. As opposed to Peronism, the fellow authoritarian ideology in Argentina, there doesn't seem to have been any sort of collective sentiment in the Chilean government beyond patriotism and catholicism. Peron was much closer to being a Fascist in the Italian or German sense, not surprising in light of the steps taken by his government to ferret Nazi war criminals into safe hiding in his country.

Here's the original article with ensuing drama. Nazi Germany wasn't free market but had a considerable commitment to informal corporatist agreements as opposed to enforced central planning.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

No,No, No..It's happened: protesters charged with terrorism for civil disobedience

From Democracy Now!:

"8 RNC Protesters Get Terror Charges Under PATRIOT Act

In St. Paul, Ramsey County prosecutors have formally charged eight members of the group RNC Welcoming Committee with conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism. The eight activists are believed to be the first persons ever charged under the 2002 Minnesota version of the federal PATRIOT Act. The activists face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison. According to the National Lawyers Guild, the criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County Attorney do not allege that any of the defendants personally engaged in any act of violence or damage to property. Instead, authorities are seeking to hold the eight defendants responsible for acts committed by other individuals during the opening days of the Republican National Convention."

Bold for emphasis.

This is what we, meaning lots and lots and lots of people in the United States, have been afraid would happen. The PATRIOT Act and its progeny have now been used to prosecute protesters who were engaged in direct action. First it was criminal conspiracy acts, now outright terrorism. The first strategy was that used against the Freedom Riders in the South during the Civil Rights movement, who technically were engaged in breaking the law as a conspiracy because they were determined to integrate bus travel. Same thing with organized civil disobedience against segregation in general in the South. Now, with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism we've passed a very, very, dangerous threshold. Terrorism in the United States means Guantanamo Bay, torture, being held without cause, and possibly the death sentence. The RNC Welcoming Committee is being labeled Domestic Terrorist organization.

Everybody should be shitting bricks at this point over this because we know all too well where this could lead to.....look at South America for some prominent examples.

Mike Gravel can rant all he wants but Palin isn't a Ron Paul conservative

In a recent CounterPunch article Mike Gravel, Senator from Alaska and the most incisive critic of the Bush regime during the Democratic Primaries, sings the praises of Sarah Palin. Paints her as a gutsy, small town libertarian conservative of the Ron Paul camp. Doesn't say Ron Paul but that's the basic message. I think he forgets that you don't get to be the vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party by sticking to ideas that are espoused by a counter convention happening while the nominee makes her acceptance speech. In any case, there's a fine line between libertarian conservatives who have a sort of cool cachet to them and folks who are just conservatives with libertarian tendencies. Pat Buchanan isn't Ron Paul. I'm betting that Palin falls more into the Buchanan camp, albeit in a less extreme way, or else she'd never get to where she is now.

"There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you"

Invocation of martial values by Palin:


"The governor was unflinching as she contrasted McCain's military record with a lack of armed service by Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.

"There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you in places where winning means survival and defeat means death - and that man is John McCain," said Palin."


I'm reminded of one of the propositions that Otto Strasser outlined in "Germany Tomorrow", and that is that only people who had engaged in military service would be allowed to hold office. Otto Strasser was one of the Strasser brothers, the other one being Gregor, who represented the biggest challenge in the Nazi party to Hitler's faction. Racist but with a populist streak, endearing them to present day neo-Nazis who feel uncomfortable with out and out Hitler worship. Gregor was killed in the "Night of Long Knives". Both were anti-semitic of course. "Germany Tomorrow" was written at the end of the war when Otto Strasser was living in Canada, having moved there under an assumed name. It was something written to kind of clean up his image by moving from Nazism to more straightforward Italian style Fascism, which I suppose is some sort of an improvement in that hanging on the end of a rope would be decreased as a possibility if anyone actually believed him.

In his plan, only people who served in the military could hold office, both for the nationalistic patriotic reasons and also for the belief held that military training and service would mold people into a "New Man". Other highlights are that Jews and other social groups with different religious and cultural values would only be able to remain citizens if they converted to the dominant religion, adopted the dominant culture, and essentially completely assimilated. Otherwise they'd be registered aliens without equal civil rights.

Yes, the New Man will be forged in the heat of battle, not in the rooms of intellectuals or in the fat circus of professional politicians. Military experience über alles indeed.

Hate to leave it here. Have to say that what a splendid job fighting to 'defend' the United States in Vietnam we all did. McCain was shot down and held as a POW, but that doesn't retroactively make the Vietnam war something that was vital for the survival of the United States. It's bad that McCain was tortured, but he wouldn't have been there at all if Vietnam hadn't happened, even if he pursued a career in the Navy. Which means he was tortured for nothing, suffering pointlessly for something that didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Two months

Two fucking months and it'll be election day. That night we'll probably know who will succeed Bush. Probably because of the bullshit that's gone on in the last two elections; but if it's not close there'll be less of a chance of drawn out fighting about the result. The successor to Bush will be chosen and the next milestone will be the inauguration, 1/20/09, as all the bumper stickers say. Then it'll really be over. We may have a conservative who is as nuts as Bush on foreign policy but the continual embarrassment and outrage that is the Bush administration will have come to a close. Put the fucker out to pasture and let the adults take over. The sheer weight of the anti-intelligence possessed by Bush and wielded as a weapon of obstruction against the American people and destruction against the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan will be lifted from the U.S. and from the world. I'm looking forward to some equivalent of Khruschev's secret speech, where he denounced Stalin, although I know that it'll probably come through new media openness for calling them like they've seen them instead of through any sort of government announcement, although Obama could, theoretically do something of the sort.

You know, I'm too young to have a proper perspective on the Reagan administration, but from what I remember they at least kept it entertaining, they being Reagan's handlers. Lots of bigoted, mean, drama, the creation of the war on drugs and the condemnation of the '60s. All the while pursuing their agendas in economics and elsewhere, some of it overlapping with the dog and pony show. It hurt a lot of people, the "Reagan Revolution", but in a way the stone silence of the Bush administration on many days is worse. The administration doesn't even pretend like it gives a damn. If Reagan was the "Great Communicator", meaning in essence the great spin doctor and propagandist, Bush is the "Great Mute".

But that'll change on November 4th/January 20th. Both candidates possess the basic cognitive skills necessary to actually engage the American people.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Anti-FISA group targets GOP delegates in St. Paul.....umm...

According to Raw Story a group of folks is sticking it hard to the man by airing thirty second commercials pointing out that all GOP Senators voted for FISA. They're specifically airing it in Minneapolis during the GOP convention.

"While Pincus acknowledges there won't be too many sympathetic viewers among the Republican convention attendees, he says he hopes the ad will attract some attention from the thousands of reporters in St. Paul to cover the convention and give them a news peg on which to hang new stories about civil liberties issues in the election."

So let me get this straight: they're fighting for civil liberties by broadcasting a commercial saying that the GOP Senators, many of whom are likely in attendance, voted for FISA immunity and that's a bad, bad thing? I mean, not to get too snippy, but I'd think that things like actually marching in real life at the convention would be more productive than yelling at them through a very angry commercial which they may or may not see in their hotel rooms. But it's netroots! The new protest strategy!

It's diabolically clever in its non-sensicalness. You'd think that it was a self-defeating strategy with no point, but you'd be wrong, oh so wrong.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Republicans celebrate first day of convention with Hookers & Blow

With "Hookers & Blow" being a band playing at one of the privately sponsored events.

People aren't on the top of the food chain

The idea that humans are on the top of the food chain and have gotten there through superiority, and that therefore human society should be structured for survival of the fittest is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of where human ancestors and humans really fit in. The things that really are on the top of the food chain are tigers, bears, leopards, things like that, possibly really bad ass gorillas too. The animals closest to where humans come from are further down the food chain and have to watch out for their local representatives of the above. Human beings rose to where we are not through sheer survival of the fittest but because we learned how to use tools and therefore short circuit the whole process. Human beings would not exist for very long if the mental capacity that enabled this was taken away and we became animals having the form of humans. The same could be said for human society itself.

If we created a survival of the fittest scenario with nothing to stop anyone from abusing anyone else the people who were nasty and vicious, the tigers and bears of the human world, would raise terror while the folks who weren't like that would spend lots of time trying to figure out how to counter them, get around them, defeat them through cunning. Cunning, ideas and knowledge, can be passed on to people through teaching, with genetics playing no role.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sarah Palin....Jesus Christ.

I unfortunately feel like I know the type that this person belongs to. Looking through the great oracle of Wiki, it emerges that Palin was a soccer mom-esque figure from Wasilla Alaska, population 8,471, at the very edge of the Anchorage area. Let correct that. Soccer-Mom/Hick mix that marginal towns in metro areas produce. Grew up in Wasilla, went to high school there, went to college in Idaho, went back to Wasilla. Eventually became Mayor of Wasilla. Went on from being Mayor of Wasilla to being governor [on edit: was appointed Oil and Gas commissioner in between]. Real go getter, played high school basketball and was the prayer leader for her Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Took second place for Miss Alaska, but of course owes none of her accomplishments, such as they are, to looks.




My god what a nightmare. I have visions of some of the local parents in one of the hick towns I had the displeasure of growing up with being one heart beat away from the Presidency...possibly....I can't even think about it. Welcome to why I left the country, folks. Right here before you. I would move to Europe if she became President.

*on edit: if she became President there would be a series of posts here about how nice things are in Washington State, then silence, then a post announcing that I'm staying at an undisclosed location in Berlin...which is sort of a happening avant-garde place these days, if my sources are correct.

Palin indicates that McCain doesn't want a Cheney relationship

Jonathan Schwartz makes the case in This article on "This Modern World" that the selection of Palin, who has not that much experience, is a sign of the American Empire's decay. But I think that he's probably been influenced too much by the Bush years, where the Vice Presidency has taken on unprecedented powers, and has forgotten how things were before it. In the time before, the Vice President's office was looked at as pretty useless, with people questioning during Clinton-Gore whether or not it had any function at all except to be a warm body unless the President becomes incapacitated. And Dan Quayle under George H.W. Bush was a running joke. At best American Vice Presidents have functioned as more toothless versions of European Presidents, who deal with foreign diplomacy while the Prime Minister makes all the final and real decisions.

The fact that McCain has selected Palin as his running mate is an obvious slap in the face to the idea of the puppet presidency of Bush-Cheney, where before the sudden discovery of his 'gravitas' (cool latin word!) post-9/11 Bush was regarded as an incompetent idiot who let Cheney do the real job of running things. Or, more likely, Cheney served as a special 'advisor', who made decisions and passed them on to Bush as 'suggestions' that Bush later acted on.