Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why concern about Iran's nuclear program?

I mean, they aren't threatening to send nuclear weapons to the U.S., and they aren't particularly upset at Europe. The one country that's under threat from Iran's nuclear weapons program is Israel, yet all of the coverage of it in the U.S. assumes that Iran's nuclear program is an existential threat to America and to the whole world. Not true. For sure, the idea of one country using nuclear weapons on another is a grave concern, however, maybe it would be appropriate to ask Israel to give up it's over one hundred nuclear weapons it possesses, along with its nuclear enrichment plant at Dimona, before talking about Iran's nuclear weapons.

In the U.S., we seem to conflate "Threat to Israel" with "Threat to the United States" constantly. The two aren't the same, by any means, and the people who write about Iran should be more honest about who in the world is primarily concerned with Iran arming itself.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In other countries, all people are just issued voter IDs

And so there's none of this "having to produce an id" business. Everyone who is a citizen has a voter id card and no one is required to bring in extra material. Pure and simple. However, we, in our enlightened state, require people to specifically register to vote in order to be able to do so. 

Every time I go to Greenlake in Seattle I hate it a little bit more

Yuppie capitol, home of people who think that if you're rich but eat organic and do yoga you're fighting the man. Here's a hint: you are the fucking man, you're not challenging anything by ripping off hippie culture.

*on edit: the Greenlake ethos is exemplified by PCC Natural Markets which has a location just west of Greenlake on Aurora Avenue. PCC is a co-operative store. As a "cooperative", it's owned by its members, in a semi-egalitarian way, but, guess what--it's the most expensive chain store in all of Seattle. It's prices are so sky high that no one can regularly shop for anything there unless they're rich. Pure and simple. I can't even go in there and get a snack because it's so expensive. The only things I get at PCC on a semi-regular basis (and not at the Greenlake one, by the way), are natural cleaning supplies.

So there you have it, all the sustainability and organic-ness that you could want, but no one who actually has to live within the constraints that 90% of Americans can actually buy anything there, making it a defacto trendy spot for the wealthy to show how much they care about the environment.

Friday, August 24, 2012

I can't but think that the reason the U.S. care so much about intellectual property is because we don't make anything anymore

I mean, shit, when you don't actually produce industrial goods anymore, protecting "Dumb and Dumber" from being pirated by people in Malaysia must seem like good economic policy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New thought about why English conservatism doesn't resemble the Tea Party

At least in general. Even though England was the birthplace of the modern conservative movement, they're not characterized by the medievalistic mentality we have in the U.S.....and that may have to do with the English experiencing their own religious war cum social revolution in the English Civil War, and having all of that insanity exhaust itself. The English Civil War was the Puritans leading the aristocracy against the Crown, and folks like Cromwell interpreted what they were doing in explicitly religious terms. That Puritan regime was overthrown, then a nice little compromise was reached in the "Glorious Revolution", that enshrined Constitutional Monarchy without the insane Puritan ideology.  We never had anything like that, and so we still see people whose mindset is shaped by the Middle Ages fighting their proxy wars across U.S. soil.

Edmund Burke? We don't even get close to being in a place where Burke's thought can be properly criticized, because we're still resisting the mindset of Torquemada.


Monday, August 20, 2012

I love Soledad O'Brien: O'Brien interviews Christine O'Donnell

Asking what makes Obama a Marxist




We should have 100% more of interviews like this....here's some news to the media: if you spend less time reporting on fucking cute dogs and more time asking basic, critical, questions about public figures you don't get absurdities like folks who believe in 'legitimate rape' getting onto the ballot.

On edit: bonus, is Obama a Marxist?

When was the last time you heard him mention the bourgeoisie and the proletariat being at constant war with each other due to the capitalist mode of production?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The same relationship between reaction and revolution can be found at the start of the Nazi state

Where Jews were opposed because they had managed to distinguish themselves in the professions, and thereby posed a threat to the traditional ethnic power structure, and where widespread declassation of the middle strata of society provoked resentment about suddenly having to live and work as  grubby workers.

The difference, or a difference, between revolutionaries and reactionaries as seen through the politics of the U.S.

Folks who want liberation, and revolution, are people who are oppressed and want to overcome that oppression, while reactionaries are people who are privileged to begin with who act to push down the folks who challenge that privilege.

The Tea Party is a prime example of reaction in the United States, because it's white, rural, Christian, and mostly composed of men, and it objects to the downgrading of this category of people  and the ascendency of a more representative group of folks into leadership.

Revolutionaries look forward to the future, reactionaries look back to the past, in what they want their goals to be.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

If the white supremacist shooting had been Muslims, they'd turn their culture upside down

Instead, the shooting at the Sikh temple has disgracefully gone down the memory hole. I think that this is an abomination and an insult, for the media to simply disregard the shooting less than a month after it happened,  while the "Dark Knight" shooter and shooting still gets coverage. I can't help but wonder if a) the media, particularly the conservative media, approves of the shooting in some way, and b) if they're afraid of examining the culture of the racist right because they know they will find  an overlap with the Republican party and the conservative movement.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good old Scandinavians in the Northwest--a product of racist immigration policies?

That could be a "yes". Immigration trends hardly ever happen by accident, and Scandinavian immigration to the U.S. was promoted around the turn of the century because Scandinavians were more  Aryan than others, while immigration reform against Italians, Jews, Poles, and others limited the quotas to almost nothing. I was reminded of this when reading the dedication of Mike Lofgren's new book to his grandfather, who he labels an immigrant from Scandinavia.....and who was likely able to immigrate because someone who was Jewish or Italian was prevented from doing so. In any case, I'm looking forward to the book, which looks like a good take down of the current Republican Party.

And yes, "Aryan" is the right word to use. The folks who instituted the immigration restrictions against people from Southern and Eastern Europe specifically said they wanted to "preserve the character of the country", but, strangely enough, Scandinavians, who were here in fairly small numbers, were regarded as being in the character of the country, along with Germans, who were here in much larger numbers, because both were related to Anglo-Saxons as Germanic peoples. Finns, who were originally an Asian people, were given a pass because folks said that centuries of interbreeding had made them as white as the Swedes.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

On thing lacking in the U.S.: an awareness of 'culture' as a category

By which I don't mean high culture. Neither do I mean "Western Culture". Instead, I mean the idea of there being something consisting of social relationships that binds people together that, while possibly ultimately based on economics, is nevertheless in its lived experience something that's almost intangible.

'Culture' in this sense refers to the self awareness of human beings self of human life and its various issues. It's self aware, self critical, thinking about the environment in which a person lives in, about both their own personal life and the extended lives of those around them. This aspect of culture is lacking in the United States.

Instead of self consciousness about what it is that we do, we have a mind-numbing eternal present in which people just live, and live, and live, without critically evaluating or even really giving a damn about what exactly that living consists of. Work, food, tv, work food, tv, maybe sharing the latest Hollywood movie with loved ones, then repeating whatever trends are marketed to them, without any self awareness of just what it's all about characterizes life here. Little intellectual curiosity, just pass the chips. This eternal now has to be challenged and contextualized within the greater whole that individuals exist within.

If we're going to change things we need to build up a self conscious political sub-culture revolving around present day issues of life and society that can be used as a spring board for action to change things in our society.

Neo-liberals from the Third World...

Folks like Fareed Zakaria and others....is a funny situation. I see these folks as people who regard neoliberalism and the free market as new and exotic things, coming from cultures where these things either  don't exist, or haven't existed very long. They're infatuated with them....even though they haven't lived with them for very long, much as some people in the United States were infatuated with the Soviet Union despite never having visited it. For people who live here in the U.S., who actually grew with it, the situation is different, yet the media and the Right never tire of trotting out people from non-Western countries that have cheerfully bought into the gospel of the free market as proof that everyone who objects to it here are spoiled and overprivileged brats.

*on edit: these folks are like people from colonial countries who sung the praises of the occupier.

...and, the New York Times does the right thing in reference to the Sikh shooting: "If the Sikh Temple Had Been a Mosque"

Here 
By Samuel Freedman

"Yet the mistaken-identity narrative carries with it an unspoken, even unexamined premise. It implies that somehow the public would have — even should have — reacted differently had Mr. Page turned his gun on Muslims attending a mosque. It suggests that such a crime would be more explicable, more easily rationalized, less worthy of moral outrage

“Islamophobia has become so mainstream in this country that Americans have been trained to expect violence against Muslims — not excuse it, but expect it,” said Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American writer and scholar on religion. “And that’s happened because you have an Islamophobia industry in this country devoted to making Americans think there’s an enemy within.”

“If this had happened at a mosque, would our reaction be different?” asked Mr. Singh, a software engineer in suburban New York who also publishes political cartoons online at Sikhtoons.com. “I hope not, but the answer might be yes. You’d have the same amount of coverage, but you might have more voices saying, ‘Well, you know, it’s understandable, we’re at war, we’ve been at war.’ That’s an unfortunate commentary on our society today.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ecological destruction is a spiritual issue

But not spiritual in the way folks usually use the word. "Spirit", as used in continental Europe, refers to more than just religious issues. It refers to issues and types of thinking that people sometimes see as religious but that more accurately could be labeled as philosophical. Hegel very ably looked at some uses of the word "spirit"  and decoupled them from religiousity, even though in the end he was religious himself.

Here in the West we have had a great series of technological advances, but the thing that made them possible was the de-emphasization of "Spirit" as a concern. What "Spirit" referred to was what the Theologian Paul Tillich called the "Ultimate concern", the ultimate consequences of actions, both personal and collective. The ultimate consequences were thought of in terms of theological morality, and this made them vulnerable, but they provided a brake on potentially disruptive human endeavors by forcing people to look at their long range impacts.

But with the decoupling of technological and scientific endeavor from ultimate concerns, from ultimate morality, two things happened. First, great breakthroughs took place. It turned out that many of the concerns that stopped people from exploring the natural world and its mechanisms, and from formulating technology that made use of them, were overblown. Second, those breakthroughs eventually lead to environmental and social carnage that had to be painfully corrected, if it was even corrected at all. Blake's "Satanic Mills" certainly were dark in that they employed child labor, and inhuman working conditions, while the workers lived in shit and starved. None of that would have been possible if these contributions to progress were evaluated in moral as well as practical terms, with the brakes put on it when it looked like they could be going the wrong way. Capitalism, that put the impetus of making money to use fueling the scientific and technological impulse, was and is a great way of visiting unknown destruction on the natural world without moral or "spiritual" issues being considered.

I mean, the market is always right, right? Collectively, it's far better than thousand of years of moral philosophy regarding what makes a society just and fair. Instead, it's leading us over a cliff into personal destruction in order to line the pockets of the few, so that they can buy bigger TVs, houses, and boats, and live lives devoid of meaning. How different is that than the "spiritual" mode of perception, where action is oriented towards bigger concerns that ensure the welfare of the community and the individual, instead of buying trinkets and vulgar status symbols.

The  category of "Spirit" as "Geist" or "Mind" points to some of it's finer aspects: it's a mode of perception of the greater realities that surround us, and if a person doesn't really participate in that world, they're tone deaf to those essential realities in the world. Yet, these people are the ones who are dominating our society, who get the status and the power, who are leading us off the cliff.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Funny, when it's a conservative white guy (who wasn't insane) doing the shooting, the Seattle Times isn't interested in follow up stories

Just sayin'. The shooting at the Sikh temple has mysteriously disappeared off the Seattle Times' website's front page, with one small link about Sikh's in India and a small op-ed,  despite being front page news with lots of new information everywhere else. If it was eco-terrorism, or Muslims, they would be all over it

Ironically, CBS and NBC online have better coverage of the shooter in Wisconsin than the New York Times

CBS, NBC, New York Times.

I say it's ironic because the New York Times has extensive coverage of folks around the world who are critical of Israel, with article after article implying anti-semitism on their part, yet when a person who is actually part of an anti-semitic subculture in the United States does something, they're relatively clueless. Instead, television news networks are better prepared, the folks that lots of people, including me, often deride as being clueless and inept. 

Monday, August 06, 2012

My heart goes out to the victims of Nazi terror in Wisconsin

A loss to the community caused by a "piece of white shit", as Burroughs might have said.