Friday, August 08, 2008
If it hadn't been for the video nobody would have believed this family.Liberals of my acquaintance observe with regret and mourning that George W. Bush and his Republican party have done some kind of inexpressible "damage to our institutions." Their managerialism shows through: they believe that good people--civil servants, career professionals, graduates of the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, Justice Department lawyers, Assistant District Attorneys, etc.--toiling within these institutions (idealized abstractions of the physical apparati of state power, natch) work, oh, not universally, but generally and dilligently for the betterment of our society and our lives, unless corrupted by "ideology." Ideology is a euphemism for Republicanism, whatever that is.
Liberals accuse Conservatives of undue fealty to power, but the Liberal trust in these Institutions leads naturally to siding with authority. When I see someone write that she'd never believe--nobody would ever believe--that agents of state authority, armed and empowered to use violence, would act violently, unless we saw the documentary evidence first, I see someone whose perpetual shock suggests a serious divorce from reality. The Right, in this regard, is much more realistic. They've constructed a whole apologetics for state brutality, defending dog-killers and bro-tasers as necessary enforcers of order and subservience, shrugging off those abuses that can't be denied as regrettable but inevitable features of the system, or else, in extremis, as "bad apple" aberrations. In other words, a Conservative admits to his worldview the fact that authority is often violent (indeed, he approves of it), and is therefore neither surprised nor shocked when violence-by-the-authorities occurs.
Liberals are much more dishonest and contradictory on the point. Because they selectively exclude the foundation of santioned violence from their conception of the state-as-a-cooperative-enterprise, they are routinely shocked when the smoke rolls back and they witness the boot coming down. You can see it most clearly in their reaction to clumsy, blatant warfare of the Iraq variety, but it shows up in a more ubiquitous and insidious form in their constant surprise at police beatings, or prosecutorial corruption, which, again, they usually pin on some Republican ideologue-bogeyman who's corrupted our institutions of public safety. Incoherency leads to a sort of hysteria, but however many times they witness the plain evidence that their worldview is wrong, they respond as if it has never happened before:
Apparently, this is the way things are done in America these days. The police can shoot you full of electricity for any reason they choose and can deliver marijuana to your house and then burst in without warning, shoot your dogs down in cold blood and then when it turns out you are an innocent victim, shrug and say what they did was perfectly appropriate. This could happen to any one of us at any time.These days, she says, as if it constitutes a novelty. Ask poor urban blacks or rural whites, people with no vested interest in defending any aspect of our status quo, to describe their interactions with police, and see if you don't revise your opinions about the commonnness of "abuses." By and large, the people who want to take up the mantle of "progressivism" or "activism" are people who have failed to construct an accurate model of the world in which they live. The latter begets the former, in fact, because their shock and surprise impel them into their various political programs.
I would have believed that family without a video.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Lt. Uhura moaned softly as Jesus' took her from behind. His thick, circumcised member plunged in to the hilt, and she felt him shudder with pleasure and longing.And they all lived happily ever after.
"Oh, yes!" she cried, "There is no way to the father but through me, bitches."
But Jesus couldn't reply. Even as began to pump her slowly, holding her narrow waist
hipsin his strong hands, Mohammed, who was perched above and beside them on the arm of the couch, maneuvered Jesus sweet, pouty lips to his own turgid cock. As Jesus gently drew back the supple foreskin with his mouth and flicked his tongue across the throbbing head, Mohammed hit his blunt again and breathed out in his deep baritone, "Oh, yeah baby, that's the shit . . ."
Across the room, staring back at Lt. Uhura as a pale mirror image, Legolas gaped as Vishnu's first hand penetrated . . .
Look, I think that The Obama is going to win. The Empire requires a frontman, and the system isn't going to let a cranky, geriatric mouseketeer who's never used the Google and who thinks that we need to station troops on the border between Laos and Paraguay use the remote. They cancelled Matlock, grandpa. No, we don't get TV Guide.
Donk warbling on impending doom due to declining polls is so damned silly, and predicated on the doomsaying scenarios of a lot of "strategists" (how do I get that gig, btw? sounds suh-weet) who, it turns out, have been totally marginalized, declawed, defanged, neutered, tied to a post, and left out in the rain by the power and discipline of The Obama. The Obama knows all, sees all, hears all.
A liberal advertising consultant said: "There's frustration there because they're watching these childish ad campaigns, and they know exactly how to answer it, but they're powerless to do so."The group has since disbanded for lack of funding. Oh-ho-ho. Kiss the ring. The Obama demands not fealty, but love.
Powerless, that is, because most of the independent groups that would have taken the lead in such an independent campaign have been sidelined by Obama's insistence that Democratic donors channel their money to him, rather than outside groups. Obama's efforts have succeeded in maintaining message discipline in a campaign predicated on what the senator from Illinois has called a new kind of politics.
But that has hamstrung what would have been one of the three fronts on which Democrats had hoped to wage the 2008 campaign, said Donna Brazile, Gore's 2000 campaign manager. Obama's team was able to push back quickly against McCain's character attacks, she said, and the Democratic National Committee is beginning to engage the Republican National Committee in a more cutting effort, yesterday starting an "Exxon-McCain '08" campaign that portrays the Republican as the running mate of the oil giant.
But the surrogate groups remain dormant, Brazile said, because of Obama's decision to cut them out.
"There are no independent groups. Everybody's walked off the field," said Tom Matzzie, who left MoveOn.org to form Progressive Media USA specifically to launch a massive attack against McCain. The group has since disbanded for lack of funding.
Seriously, I hope this continues. Lord knows I don't give a shit which one wins in November, but I sure do like to see the palace gang squirm within their sinecures. How did La Rochefoucauld put it? "We are all strong enough to bear the misfortunes of others."
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Ladies and gentlemen, I'll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests - we did. But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!So congratulations are in order, as we have finally managed to convict Osama bin Laden's driver of driving Osama bin Laden. His barber will have an easier defense, no doubt. "But, but, I didn't do anything!" Thank you, I'll be here all week.
"Providing material support for terrorism" is a war crime? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Goebbels, what kinda world we livin' in? "The prosecution’s theme was that, however small his role may have been, people like Mr. Hamdan make al Qaeda possible." You're too small to be a terrorist, Hamdan, but I like your moxy.
But Tonto he was a smart one, and one day said, "Kemosabe, kiss my ass, I bought a boat, I'm goin' out to sea."
Just yesterday, it seemed that the Donk was having a collective fit of righteous terror, a full-on conniption at the realization that The Obama was polling evenly with John McCain. How could this be? Didn't America love the (Emily) Dickinsonian off-rhymey "McSame" jeer? Doesn't America hope for change? Oh that the day had perished wherein I was born, and the night which said, there is a man child conceived! It was the Media! It was unfair. His girlfriend gave up her toe!
Today, they are giddy as can be because Paris Hilton released a video in which she explains that John McCain is old and besides which if we just, like, drill for more oil and drive more efficient cars, then the "energy crisis" will be solved. Or, actually, and I quote:
Hilton basically endorsed a compromise proposal (I can't believe I wrote that sentence) of limited drilling as a bridge to a green energy future. That's not true; the meager take from coastal drilling is not nearly enough to build that bridge. But in the political context, both candidates are actually agreeing with this, as it's laid out in the bipartisan "Gang of Ten" plan on energy in the Senate. It's a true compromise, and it includes eliminating tax breaks for oil companies and funneling that money into alternative energy research.You've got to love the pivot: "That's not true . . . but in a political context." Politics, the Art of the Implausible!
In this scenario, the "price at the pump" will come down, and ten years later we'll all be flying around in personal electric hovercars, or some other Aspen Institute nonsense, living glorious Clintonian lives, gay-marrying in coastal enclaves, with the midwest coverted to a single giant windfarm and monorails as far as the eye can see. A real "energy plan" would involve, say, the reclamation of currently unworked, formerly arable land around population centers for a more localized agriculture in a near future when 1500-mile-per-bite transnational supply logistics will be unsustainable. It would involve bicycles. It would involve the radical revision of our lived communities and economic lives.
But in the meantime, 2 divisions to Afghanistan! Hi-ho Silver, away!
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
"The guy has a, you know, he's young, and he is, you know, his campaign is based upon, you know, aspirational kind of, you know..."
Right. Well, you know, one of the enduring questions is why the press behaves in the way that they do, and it's not something you can answer with easily packaged answers or unifying theories because there's, the press is not any more monolithic than any other large collection of, you know, institutions and people with all kinds of competing motives.The hoary adage that Marx was a great diagnostician who unfortunately proposed a cure worse than the disease has always seemed to me to be deliciously true. What's remarkable about our modern "progressives" is just how thoroughly Great-Man-ized their political "science" has become and just how thoroughly incapable they are of conducting any kind of materialist analysis. Fuck, I'm a libertarian anarchist and I can do it without too much personal discomfort. Let's try this on for size.
-Glenn "You Must Be Fucking Kidding Me" Greenwald, during an interview with La Digs
Time Warner owns Time, Life, and People magazines, plus about 60 others. It owns DC Comics. (Hey, Batman!) It owns film studios like Warner Bros., New Line, and Fine Line. It owns HBO, Comedy Central, TNT, TCM, TBS, CNN and all its spinoffs. It's got a major share in TiVo. It owns AOL. It has a substantial share in Amazon. It has substantial business partnerships with Viacom/National Amusements, AT&T, and Bertelsman. Bertelsman is Europe's largest film and television producer. It's the largest trade publisher in the US. It owns Random House, Vintage, Knopf, The Modern Library, Bantam Doubleday, Dell, and Delacorte, plust a 50% share in the Book-of-the-Month Club with (see above) Time Warner. It's one of the largest US/European magazine publishers with over 80 titles. It owns a couple hundred music labels, including BMG, Arista, and RCA. National Amusements owns CBS Networks, and through Viacom controls Paramount, Nickelodeon, MTV, Showtime, and BET. Its publishing imprints include Simon and Schuster, Pocket Books, and Scribner. It has exclusive advertising rights on public transit in New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Philly, Detroit, etc. GE owns NBC, CNBC, MSNBC in partnership with Microsoft. A&E, History, Biography, are shared with Disney et al. Disney owns ABC and ESPN. Newscorp owns Fox and Foxnews, a 2/3 stake in the National Geographic Channel, TV Guide, 20th Century Fox, the Weekly Standard, the New York Post, Harpercollins, etc. Did we mention that AT&T owns a major stake in Newscorp? Maybe. It gets so hard to keep it straight.
Just ask Mr. Jensen:
You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those *are* the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that . . . perfect world . . . in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.He was a little too sanguine about the breakdown of national borders . . .
Because the truth is that their are governments, and they are tied inexorably to the operations of the very corporations whose holdings constitute nearly the sum total of information available to folks today. Mr. Jensen had it half-backwards. We are also the Soviets. The internet is Howard Beale's 21-inch screen. We're just a lot of madmen. When Glenn Greenwald and Digby and Liberal Netrootsia and the Concerned Citizens for Fairness in the Media of Responsibily and Ethics of Civil Liberties in Washington all get together to worry themselves sick over the tranquilizing effect of triviality-as-Media, I want to stick my own head out the window and scream. They're only abrogating their responsibility if it's to you, and, kiddos, I gots ta tell ya, it ain't!
Dear Lord Jesus in motherfucking heaven, just follow the fucking money!
I read Lenin's threnody on the spirit of Man in Batman with interest, and not only because I have a little intellectual crush on a fellow youthful polymath. One of the problems I have with the purported advent of darker, grittier, realer (whatever-er) characters in comics, beginning in the seventies, I suppose (or the sixties, or the thirties, or whenever), is that their supposed characterological complexity and moral ambiguity was such a thunderous sham. I'm reminded of Jim Henley's old Doc Johnsonism In Re: the Matter of Eugene Volokh: "I’ve always considered his specialty to be showy moral handwringing on the way to siding with Power anyway." Between The Wolverine and Anna Karenina, the difference isn't depth of characterization. Hell, I know--and so do you--Logan more and better than Anna, after all these years and gazillions of frames. The difference is that I am never not on The Wolverine's side.
In print comics there are at least a few honorable exceptions, but the coming Threehundredification of Watchmen just makes me all the more conscious of how exceptionless film adaptations have been, how the moral posturing of the returned Superman ("does the world need me as a Savior?") and the "reimagined" Batman ("am I a grim necessity in this Hobbesian world?") proves to be so vacuous because the conclusions (always "Yes!"--enthusiastically) are so thoroughly pre-ordained.
Lenin says: "[Batman] is the ruthless, overbearing superego of Gotham city, animated not by compassion or solidarity but by an obsessive conscience." That's some fine analysis, but I think it may overcredit the character. Bruce Wayne's parent's are killed in front of him, and he goes off and turns himself into a killing machine that doesn't kill in order to avenge them. He opposes "crime" but has no meaningful definition of what it is. It isn't mere civic order, municipal statutes. A man of sufficient uniqueness, daring, and capability (i.e., the Batman himself) can abrogate those rules at any time in pursuit of personal ends. His snarling opposition to R'as al Ghul in Batman Begins is a perfect example of his vicious incoherency. Al Ghul says: They are irredeemable, and so we will exterminate them. We're meant to identify this genocidal impulse with evil, Nazism, absolutism. But Batman doesn't reply that there is good in them yet. He instead essentially affirms the impossibility of Their redemption, and then thwarts Their eradication in order to make Them into a palimpsest on which he can write his own Jacobean revenge drama over and over and over again.
Well, you say, then he is morally ambiguous, after all. But no, no he isn't, because at no point during all the relentless carnage and quick-cutting and speechifying and daredevilling and kabooming and kaplowing is it anything but totally self-evident that this is exactly the way things are supposed to be. There's no ironic distance. Our identification with the Batman and his kampf is absolute. He may be the boot stepping on our faces forever, but we've already been to room 101.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Meanwhile, the rest of us continue to pay the costs of juggling imperial imposition and democracy promotion. And contrary to the expectations that many opponents of the neocons have invested in the "antiwar" Democratic presidential candidate, these costs will only rise if President Obama decides to simultaneously play Queen Victoria and Woodrow Wilson. He seems inclined to do just that.Obama's rhetoric of Escalation seems largely to please his Progressive supporters, who are fond of a history in which "we" "abandoned" post-Soviet Afghanistan, which led to the Taliban, the destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas, the burkha, and 9/11. This history conveniently elides the part where the CIA armed and fostered those religious forces in order to defeat the godless Communists, and we did not so much abandon the Afghanis as turn them over to our own partners in the proxy conflict. (Also, eerie Soviet-American parallels: Mohammad Najibullah: Hamid Karzia . . . both Pashto; both puppets . . .)
-Leon T. Hadar
The Donk forever seeks a Toughness trump to counter Republican claims of ineffectuality and effeminacy, an unseemly unwillingness to kill foreigners. There is a certain irony here, because lately the Imperium has run more smoothly under Democratic direction. Afghanistan proves popular as a dumping-ground for imperial dreams for a number of reasons. It did "shelter" the people who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001 (although so did Germany, where they actually planned and plotted, yet no one's sent out Wes Clark to suggest Obama would be willing to bomb and rebuild Hamburg). It lacks any obvious petrostrategic significance, blostering claims that our interest there is more purely "humanitarian." Its people live in such . . picaresque poverty, their stunning blue eyes staring from deep-browed . . .
This image of the Afghanis as a noble, long-suffering people (note the singular-in-error) just waiting for the tutelage of an expeditionary democracy is plenty silly in a territory that's been chewing up empires and troubling conquerers since the Macedonians. We fully fail to appreciate just how precarious that situation is. Having thrown our lot in with a pro-India faction, even as we are trying to get Pakistan to track mountain terrorist bands, even as Pakistani intelligence agents are collaborating in the bombing of Indian embassy in Kabul, even as the US is trying to carve side-deals on nukes with India, even as . . . What did Churchill say about Russia? "It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." But Churchill went on: "There is perhaps a key. That key is the Russian national interest."
But in Pakistan: whither the nation?
We’re strangely susceptible to bogus claims about bodily purification–organic food, yoga, promise rings. And why not have an extra beer if you can just wring it out later?Well, as a pretty serious bender, twister, and wringer myself, I can say that yoga's second principle function in my life, following the maintenance of killer abdominals, is to justify tying one on the night before, comfortable in the pseudoconviction that I can squeeze it out the next day. I once had someone tell me that nothing felt better than standing on your head after a long night's trip on pure, powder-form DXM. It's true!
-Kerry Howley on the anatomical claims of yoga practice