Friday, September 28, 2012

The flaw in the Israeli idea of a Right of Return

I'm a Polish American, although not a pure one by any means. What would happen, in a hundred years, if all of the people of Polish descent in the United States decided that it was time to reclaim their homeland, and so massively emigrated to Poland with the idea of taking it over? Would that be just, because we have a cultural and genetic connection to the place? The idea that a thousand years of being away from a place isn't important is wrong. Just because there's a religious and cultural connection to a place does not mean that you have the right to seize it and act like your seizing it was just another event out of many. While folks in the Jewish Diaspora were away, a thousand years, or over, actually, of Palestinian history happened, and the "reclamation" of Palestine by the Jewish Diaspora is a negation of all of that history, as if religious reality trumps the actual events that transpired.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Is the source of all of this retro-ism '80s schlock?

Inquiring minds want to know. Looking at our thirst for things retro and interesting, it seems that they only started in the '90s, after Reaganism and the Bush interlude had done their job fucking up the country's culture in partnership with fundamentalist Christianity, bad New Wave music, and Debbie Gibson.

The retro preference folks have is very connected to musical culture, and the way I see it, the '80s represented a huge lacunae, where after all of the richness of the '60s and '70s we saw soul-less machine music (as opposed to soulful machine music) dominate everything, feeding into the greed is good, don't worry be happy, culture of the times. After something like that, what's left to build on?  Going backwards to an idealized version of what came before, to what was weird, or interesting could possibly have been a strategy to evade oblivion.

But what do we do now? After all, you can only pursue "retro" so long before what's "retro" is the pursuit of "retro" itself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Libya attack: weakening Obama strengthens Al Qaida

I've thought for a while that despite them trying to kill Al Qaida, there's actually a symbiotic relationship between the Republicans and Al Qaida, one that goes beyond rhetoric. What I mean is this: war in Afghanistan and in Iraq is good for radical Islam, it provides them with a propaganda device to spread their beliefs. However, having a moderate President of the United States in office is no good for them, because he won't play their game. Therefore, weaken the President of the United States who is running for re-election by staging something like the Libya attack that can then be used by his opposition against him. Republicans are good for Al Qaida, Obama isn't, and they're aware that it's an election year as much as anyone else.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The problem I have with eco-yuppies

Not to repeat myself, re:Greenlake in Seattle, but my problem is simple: these folks, who spend lots of time preening about how sustainable they are, are often the managers and professionals who run and benefit from capitalism, who make the system work. They are the people who either profit off the labor of others or who enjoy a higher standard of living because the people on the bottom enjoy a lower one. The fact that they put on the trimmings of sustainability, yoga, and support fashionable political causes changes nothing regarding that.

Their politics, when you get right down to it, often also reflect the superficial commitment that they have to these just and sustainable values. They'll follow whatever the Huffington Post has to say, be concerned with whatever NPR puts out there, but when it comes to less trendy and more radical they balk. They prefer to judge others by what kind of coffee they make their latte with rather than what they actually do to try to help society. And god forbid you don't get with the program and echo the mindless token gestures signifying that you're a good sustainable person.

By doing that you would violate the rules of the light weight latte liberal world and would surely indicate to all that you're  bad, bad, person. What they sometimes put so much stress on regarding buying preferences and behavior often makes almost no difference compared to the bigger issues society faces. Being polite, for example, means nothing compared to establishing true economic justice in society.


Evergreen State College, vast wasteland

I feel that it's taken six years since graduating to fully overcome the affects of going there. I went there looking for the sort of progressive, hard left, culture that the Pacific Northwest is famous for...and instead found lots of burnt out, lazy, little pieces of shit trying to con their way into a diploma. The teachers were mostly okay, but, man, there are quite a few people I was in classes with who I avoid like the plague, and many more that I feel a deep hatred and resentment towards. The latter are mostly from 2004-2005. If I had to do it over again I would sign up for the University of Oregon in Eugene,  attend regular classes, and do counter-cultural and political stuff in my free time.

If you want to lose your faith in humanity, and be convinced that the Left is composed of many more douchebags than it actually is, go to Evergreen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

College and prep work in the U.S.--intentional immaturity

This is one thing that I've always resented about things here. I'm not sure if it's like this in other countries, but in the U.S. there's a great trend to isolate folks who are going on to advanced education from the rest of life, mothering and cloying them in order to be good students...and then have them go onto college with the expectation that life there will not be real but will be a time of transition where they will be similarly protected by the authorities who watch over the school. The problem with all of that is that folks from working class backgrounds don't get any 'transition' to real life. You turn 18, graduate from high school, and there you are, an adult with all of the possibilities of adulthood offered to you, and if you don't come from a background where your parents baby you through high school it's the same thing--you see life in all of its rich variety much sooner than your comrades who go on to college do. And this is not necessarily a bad thing.

So, there are constant debates in the U.S. about the proper role of the university in regulating student life, and about the role of high schools in protecting kids, but, quite frankly, if you're not from a privileged background none of that really matters, and it's kind of entertaining, actually, to see bourgeois parents argue about protecting their little darlings in print while the rest of the country is just getting on with life. 

Friday, September 07, 2012

Obama's DNC speech---almost ideal

Here's the full text. I'm impressed. His speech was about the max in terms of progressive politics that can be expected from a mainstream politician. There were a few usual caveats, but beyond that, I really feel good about  it.

Hopefully, this will really signal a "Morning in America"---with an Obama win, that folks still need to make happen. Folks can't just assume that it'll happen on its own.

Here's a nice Yugoslav techno song about 1989 from the left wing sympathetic group Borghesia. I hope that this election cycle will see the decisive defeat of the Tea Party and all their insanity and the birth of something much better.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Bill Nye outlining it

I'm sure folks have seen this before, but it's still good.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The fact that oh so polite Seattle drivers ranked 154 out of 200 in driving...

Makes me happy in some small way. Despite our chronic inability to navigate four way stops due to fear of being impolite, it appears that we're doing something right....of the 200 cities listed, only 46 did worse than Seattle, with Seattle drivers listed as being 27.2% more likely to get into an accident than average drivers in the U.S. Here is the All State survey.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but possibly the notion that politeness in driving leads to safer driving is full of shit.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Things it would be good to look at sometime in relation to U.S. foreign policy:

If members of the conservative establishment with close ties to Israel were some of the ones fanning the flames of anti-Muslim sentiment in the post 9-11 world.  That virulent anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment is present in conservative Israeli quarters is indisputable. That there were Neo-Cons in the Bush administration who were also very close to the Israeli government is similarly indisputable.

To at least partially answer the first question, yes, and they're still there: people like Pamela Geller. In the rest of the world there are people like Geert Wilders who make a show of how much they like the right wing Israeli establishment.

**on edit: I need to clarify this. Folks in the United States are very used to people who are Jewish being on the forefront of positive social change, but the Neo-Conservative movement and the right wing interpretations of Zionism that are present in Israel are anything but. Someone like Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense under Bush, has little or nothing to do with positive politics, yet despite Israeli anti-Palestinian activity, and anti-Arab sentiment in general, being for the most part right wing, and prominent neo-cons who are Jewish supporting those right wing policies, criticism of the links between them and Israel is looked at as anti-semitism. It has nothing to do with anti-semitism and everything to do with the loyalties of right wing individuals to a country that embodies some of the worst perspectives on Islam and Arabs out there fueling general resentment of Islam and Arabs in general in the foreign policy establishment of the United States. 

**to clarify even more: that Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Elliot Abrams are Jewish says nothing whatsoever about their ultra-conservative policies. Neither does the fact that they support Israel, as a generic statement, mean anything besides that their support is likely for the hardest rightwing anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian forces in the country, people who commit war crimes on a regular basis.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Virtue in All American ignorance?

I have someone I know, who I won't describe too closely because it would be very easy to identify him, who once, in a conversation, went on about how he was an all American kid who didn't get involved or interested in politics until he got to college, but then when he did he became a radical---with the subtext being that he was more authentic or real than those people who were punks or otherwise anti-authoritarian before going to university. When I heard that, what went through my mind wasn't that he was somehow a great representative of American political culture, but "Really? It took you until you that long, until you got into college, to be aware that there are parts of our society that suck?"
That's a sign of ignorance to me, not something to be celebrated.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The U-District, University life in America in general

U-District in Seattle. Haven't been part of a university for a while, but these folks always provoke resentment in me, the students that is. I can just picture it, people who were completely obedient to their parents during adolescence going off to college and having a little 'fling' with independence before going back to doing something absolutely sanctioned by society and not creative in the least. You went to soccer practice, had no dissonant opinions of your own, were docile, stupid, and now at University you're cuttin' loose, being a rebel, and having a good time. 

The Republican Party appears to have made the right decision

In rejecting the extremist elements of the Tea Party in picking Paul Ryan. I hope that that this isn't just a flash in the pan. What I think has happened is that the folks who control the money in the Republican Party, who are concerned about their bottom lines, have decided that creating/courting the Tea Party is playing with fire and not worth the potential fall out. A similar courting of the extreme right happened in Germany in the early '30s, where the industrialists thought that they could control the Nazis, and that didn't end up well. Here, instead, the insanity appears to be tempered by the realization that if the Tea Party gets out of control the whole system, capitalism, could be burned down as a result.