Fuck it. It's Friday. See yinz later.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Fuck it. It's Friday. See yinz later.
Yeah, but the thing is, we are "a nation of whiners." I can think of no people on earth so self-entitled and miffed at the failures of the universe to live up to a national feeling of bottomless self-credit than we Americans. "Our war for oil hasn't even lowered gas prices!" Kill me.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Okay. Evidently, Barry O. made some anodyne comment to the extent that we salty children of the bountiful earth could stand to learn a foreign tongue (quiet! you, in the gallery). The predictable parties cry havoc! and let loose the dogs of snore. The pithier rejoinder to calls for bilingualism is in a pithier Henry-Higgins vein:
Set a good exampleAs Roy Edroso hints (second link), this is a sort of variation on the Noble Lie. So-called Conservatives rarely seek to avail themselves of the pleasures of the trailer, holler, jib, and pickup, yet raise the specter of social and intellectual uplift and the toniest among them turns hayseed. Though not a believer in uplift myself, I actually did grow up in rural America, albeit in a family of considerable affluence. (Turns out, we exist in the country, too! It is not all washerwomen by the river and roadkill suppers.) You can buy gourmet coffee at Sheetz. People drive into Pittsburgh and shop at Whole Foods. There are public libraries. Etc. The problem with our pseudo-Straussian élites, at last, isn't so much that they're liars, but that they're such unconvincing liars. Those who cannot keep straight faces would do well to avoid the table games.
To people whose English is painful to your ears
The Scots and the Irish leave you close to tears
There even are places where English completely disappears
In America they haven't used it for years.
Yesterday found one of our favorite objects of antagonism, Glenn Greenwald, getting snippy with Al Giordano. Al responds in kind. I think he comes off the better in the exchange, but journalistic methodology doesn't interest me very much, since everything is permissible in a universe where nothing is true, etc. etc., ad inf., et alia, gloria, hosanna, amen.
It's just this evident conviction, widely shared and endlessly amplified, that a "defeat" of the "FISA bill" will represent a roadblock, a pothole, a piece of gravel on the road to the Last Exit to Panopticon . . . I mean, it would be fun and potentially profitable to sue a lot of big telecoms, but the notion that this new legislation "expands" surveillance by, what?--admitting to it; it's crazy talk, man, crazy talk.
And this, I suppose, is the goofy theological underpinning of progressivism: Fallen, but Perfectible. In this narrative, the United States has "gotten away from its principles," or what have you, drifted from its noble roots as a
genocidal slave-owning patrician Republic, and we have but to reclaim some noble period of principle, sometime after Jackson killed all those Injuns and after Lincoln freed all those slaves but before we, uh, occupied the Philippines? Am I on the right track here? When was the last time the 4th Amendment actually obtained in this country?
Reading the Constitution or the Federalist papers or what have you is as meaningful an insight into the actual operations of the American Empire as Marx into the workings of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Well, it now appears that we can defeat the existential Iranian threat by pressing CTRL + Z.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
The Fluffy White Kitten walks into the kitchen and says, "IOZ, do we have any milk?"
"Milk!" I exclaim, and I throw myself underneath the kitchen table and clutch the butterknife in my whiteknuckled hand. "What do you want milk for?"
"Uh," says the Fluffy White Kitten, "I'm a thirsty kitten."
"How can I be certain that you're going to use that milk for drinking and not turn it against me?" I ask.
"I'm not sure how I would turn it against you, IOZ. I mean, I'm just a kitten. It's not like I have the capacity to poison it. I'm just a tiny kitten without opposable thumbs, and you're a big wealthy human with the ability to use complex tools."
"Oh-ho!" I cry, "So you admit that you have the intention of poisoning my milk and just lack the capacity at the present time! Well, I'm not going to stand by and let you develop the capacity to destroy me and my life."
"IOZ," replies the exasperated Fluffy White Kitten, "It would take tens of thousands of years of feline evolution at least, if it were possible at all, and who knows what the relationship between fluffy kittens and people will be at that point. I'm just saying for now, I'm thirsty and I want a little milk."
"Three to five years," I say.
"What?" asks the Kitten.
"I think that you could poison me in three to five years, based on current estimates."
"Whose current estimates?"
"Mine," I say. "They're my estimates."
"Based on what?"
"What do you mean, based on what?" I snap. "They're estimates. Duh."
"Look, IOZ, I'm just going to get a little milk, and then I'll leave you alone," says the Kitten, making her way toward chair that she uses to jump onto the counter.
"Kitten, if you make one more move toward that milk, I'm going to have to stab you with this butter knife!" I shout.
"IOZ, if you come at me with that knife, I'm going to scratch you," rejoins the Fluffy White Kitten.
"I knew it!" I yell. "I saw through your intentions all along!"
Or we could argue that our onetime opposition to communism was noble and all that but that, unburdened by the illusions of the past, American business, backed by the American government, has realized that the problem with communism wasn't that it was undemocratic but that it was anti-capitalist. And that once communism was integrated into a world capitalist system, its antipathy toward democracy not only wouldn't be a bad thing but would actually be good. That is clearly the political logic that underpins our involvement with China. It's a little dicier to say this about our growing involvement with Vietnam, since all those Americans whose names are on that wall on the Mall probably didn't realize how compatible with global American enterprise Vietnamese communism would turn out to be or how the cause of democracy would turn out to have been of no real importance at all.Listen, lads and lassies, he just figured this out!
Progressive Netrootsia is in its habitual tizzified conniption mode (check out the comments especially) because the noted snack food spokesman and dyke-on-bike Jonah Goldberg proferred to his audience of dumb that Barack Obama's call for national youth service constitutes "a slave mentality." It's a fairly hiliarious turn of phrase: the man who brought us Liberal Fascism, now transmogrified into a Reader's-Digest Nietzsche. We digress. Goldberg's column is the usual collection of poorly wrought sentences and sad, orphaned ideas standing in the rain, but like the needle in the haystack, there exists a tiny point in the pile. But first . . .
At Obsidian Wings, hilzoy's in a mocking mood:
Maybe in the schools Jonah Goldberg attended, they didn't require things like homework, or attendance, or reading, or math. It would explain a lot. (The idea that he wasn't asked to work his way through all those analogies in preparation for the SATs alone would probably explain most of the "arguments" in Liberal Fascism.)And that's sort of funny, except that it's true that children have been enslaved, and been so since long before compulsory schooling. I believe it was the cartoon philosopher Homer Simpson who said, "You're my children, and I own you"? I once wrote that childhood constituted a "skein of coercion." At each moment until liberated by some arbitrary age of legal majority, the child's life is circumscribed by coercion, obligation, order, and compulsion to which the child did not, cannot, and has no option to assent to or to deny. Maybe that is, or maybe that ain't the natural order of things. But unquestioning acceptance of conditions based on traditions seems to me to be a bit complacent.
For the rest of us, though, there have always been lots of compulsory things in schools. If this counts as slavery, children have been enslaved since compulsory schooling began.
I can't wait for Jonah Goldberg's sudden discovery that some children are told -- told!! -- to clean their rooms.
Slavery is a loaded word, and you could object to its application here by noting that compulsion alone doesn't constitute slavery, since the slave is not only unfree, but is also a unit in an economic system. Slaves labor for the economic benefit of their owners, while children, in these postworkhouse days, do not. That's true, but we shouldn't pretend that there's no economic aspect to mandatory public education. Maybe things are different where you live, but here in the Commonwealth, property taxes are a big issue. So let me put to you this thesis: government confiscates money from its citizens in order to pay for the mandatory civic indoctrination of youth who will subsequently take their willing places as subjects of that same confiscatory government. If they're lucky, they may also escape knowing how to read and do long division. If not, not.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
"I believe in personal responsibility, I also believe in faith [sic]," Obama says. I believe in faith? I believe in belief. And I speak by talking! Tautology has always been une langue diplomatique for the ruling class, like French in the days before the Anglo ascendency, allowing our various princes and tsars and kings and emperors and plenipotentiaries of all types and stations to yammer at each other in ballrooms while the good earth yields up famines, blights, and the occasional public execution--to break the monotony, you know? Still, the now-universally requisite affirmation that one believes in the inherent value of credulity when it comes to the notion of a supernatural order, whether that involves millions of gods and the closing of the Kali Yuga or one-slash-three and the thousand year kingdom of Christ Risen on Earth, well, it's good for a grin and giggle, anyway.
As for personal responsibility, alors, I think we all know what it means: poor people are bad, and bear the burden of their own undoing, or lack of doing, or whathefuckever. This, from someone who has faith in belief and belief in faith, is a curiously un-Christian notion. Did not the various Jesi of the Gospels aver inherent virtue in poverty? The mean and wretched shall inherent the kingdom; the meek the earth; et cet'ra, et cet'ra? I'm not no believin' man myself, but I do recall some shit about camels, needle-eyes, rich men, and heaven.
Well, whatever. As the good book says: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Si se puede!
Monday, July 07, 2008
So John McCain is evidently telling America that he's going to balance the books by winning in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's gonna kick ass, and once it's been kicked all up and down the Silk Road, he's going to--get this!--take the money saved by no longer fighting these wars, or something, and use it to balance the budget and also fund a ginormous tax cut. Now this is not unlike my plan to cut up my VISA and then use my outstanding balance and interest obligations to buy a new TV, i.e., it makes no fucking sense, it's impossible, etc. War isn't a goddamn revenue stream, it's an expenditure, and we're spending borrowed goddamn money. If McCain hadn't thrown over his poor first wife to marry that waxworks pharmacopeia for her mad money, then he'd be one more American who's got a line of home equity piled on top of an ARM in order to pay down his credit cards. Hell, the wars aren't even paid for out of the ordinary budget. They're funded by supplemental appropropriations. Even assuming that Siegfried does get us the fuck out of "The Middle East"--a likely story, as a sibilant friend of mine used to listhp--there's no change in cash flow. There's still going to be more going out than going in. The budget is at a deficit even without the war supplementals. What sort of math have they got out there in Arizona? It always seemed normal to me. I've been in Phoenix on layover, and addition and subtraction appeared to be largely, even entirely, unchanged from anywhere else in the country, world, or universe at large.
Or, as one of my favorite slacker colleagues likes to say when the issue of doing work, you lazy fucker is raised: "Whatever, man. We're all, like, gonna die anyway. What's the point?" I hereby resolve that if John McCain wins the Presidency, I am going to spend twice as much time masturbating in the men's room on three. What do we want? Revolution! When do we want it? Eh, whenever's good for you. Just send me a text, man, when you're, like, leaving the party, and maybe I'll come meet you, but I might fall asleep first.
Coinage of the day, week, possibly year: Nostradumbass.
Where were we? Sifu Tweety of The Poorman is pissed that a lot of soldiers are getting killed fer nuthin:
The best trained, best equipped army in the history of the world and you thought it was just your fucking toy to play around with, you incompetent half-wits?Now I understand this sentiment. A lot of soldiers are young kids; a lot of them are good, honorable, thoroughly decent, extraordinarily accomplished people. There are plenty of bad guys in the army too, plenty of kill-hungry lunatics. I am far less inclined to troop-love than those of the liberal-progressive persuasion. Clearly. Nonetheless, I think it's fair to say that it's a damn shame that these poor kids are getting killed in Iraq, with the enormous, looming, behemethaurus rex of a caveat that the kids are getting killed in far lesser numbers than they are killing. True, soldiers don't make policy. They go where they're told. Et cetera. Those arguments skirt awfully close to Just Following Orders. In any case, I grant that it's terribly bad and sad that American soldiers and Iraqi citizens are beset by broken bodies, broken minds, and by death.
What I don't get, however, is this notion, commonly expressed and deeply held, that "the best trained and best equiped", these superlative modifiers, imbue the American military with some particular sanctity, that the extreme and costly development of American military capabilities somehow implies a proper restraint in their deployment. We have such a smash-bang gaggle of elite soldiers and futuristic armaments because of the fact that we're an aggressive global imperium, not in spite of it. Nations and peoples that don't traipse around the world blowing shit up and killing the natives who get in their way under the hoary euphemism of Defense don't develop "the best trained and best equiped" militaries. It isn't necessary to spend a trillion dollars a year on martial endeavors if your goal is to protect your borders and national sovereignty. The dauphin and the Regent and the rest of the imperial court aren't playing around in Iraq, and they're not incompetent. They launched a war of terror and aggression--unprovoked, unjustified, but intentional in every way. It just so happened that some of the Iraqis fought back a little harder than expected for a little while. Half a decade in, however, we appear to have had some success in carving that country into segregated ethnic enclaves. Fifty years from now that shit is going to look like Yugoslavia, and whatever's left of the Donk, if anything, will rear up on its hind legs and hee-haw approvingly in the direction of a reincarnated Weasely Clark and his humanitarian bombing campaign as the territory slides toward dissolution. This has all happened before, and fuck me if it's not all going to happen a-motherfucking-gain.