I gotta tell yinz, I like this Google Chrome shit, even if it is scanning my brain and saving my personality in a vast AI for future use.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
For the whiny bastards who want some kind of substantive mockery of the whole community organizer thing, or whatever, look: Jesus. I mean, I guess the whole breads and fishes thing had a certain soup-kitchen aspect to it, although I'm not sure how you square the water-wine alchemy with helping the homeless. Also, didn't happen. Otherwise, assuming that Jesus was more or less real and more or less the character the Bible describes him as, he wasn't a "community organizer," he was a crazy street-corner divine who wanted you to know that the world was ending any fucking minute now. Now, I don't actually know what Barack Obama did on the South Side of Chicago, but I'm going to go out on a thin, breakable limb here and suggest that he wasn't balancing on fire hydrants screeching about the impending judgment of man and thousand-year reign of Himself on earth.
Dear The Free Market,
Hello. My name Mbeki Ntabo IOZ Smity, barrister solicitor for a Minister Hamudi Tudu of great West African nation Sierra Leone. Recently due to upheval, Minister Tudu finds necessary to deposit sum of $145 million US dollar, for You have been selected receiver ship of this sum. When permanent accomodation for these sums discovered, you shall compensate to tune of 10% percent, or one point four five million US dollar. Please RESPOND! with routing transfer numbers as soon as possible to me, and we will arrange transaction.
Mbeki IOZ, Esq., Ph.D.
Friday, September 05, 2008
Dear The Internet: American Users,
Wanker and related terms aren't part of your idiom. You come off like a bunch of jagoffs who pick up posh accents on their semester abroad.
After watching the malicious speeches last night mocking Senator Obama, and by proxy, cynically attacking all of us who support our local communities, I thought it would be prudent to educate the Republican Party on the historical role of community organizers.
So, GOP, meet community organizer Yog Soggoth, stupendous in its malign suggestiveness. He was there when the Old Ones broke through, and knowns when they shall break through again.
Meet community organizer The Chupacabra. He helped drain the blood of goats and bring new respectability to the field of cryptozoology.
Meet community organizer Moloch. He brought together wealthy men of all political affiliations to plot world domination at the Bohemian Grove.
Meet community organizer John Wilkes Booth. He brought together a conspiracy of like-minded revanchists. Sic semper deadbeats.
Meet community organizer Khan Noonien Singh. He ensured that a small remnant of his band of eugenic supermen survived even after Tau Ceti V was shifted in orbit by the explosion of Tau Ceti VI.
Never forget the power of the people.
Now that several millennia of this presidential election are behind us and only a century or two remain, it's worth puasing to consider how dreadfully, predictably quotidian it's all become, despite the supposedly revolutionary presence of an American-of-Color and an American-of-Gender on the two major-party tickets. Everyone pimps a modified version of America's incoherent and frankly silly blend of xenophobic nativism and international military imperialism. The GOP opts to play principally to cultural insecurities; the Democrats opt to play principally to economic insecurities. Thus do they find themselves in rough equilibrium, with the Economy, Stupid eking a slight lead so far due to the external circumstances of a credit-starved debtor economy, a grim irony when considered in light of the second man on the Democratic slate, who was one of the principal legislative architects and enablers of the now-contracting go-go economy. Pre-election, ginned-up, set-piece worries about whether or not partisans of either side would coalesce behind their parties' respective nominees were never more than palaver to fill dead air time. "Progressives" got religion for the newly centrist, hawkish Obama ticket, telling themselves that they would somehow hold his feet to the fire on their pet issues after the election. To quote the great Applegate: as if. Republicans just as readily backed the supposedly unconventional McCain despite over-hyped questions about his fidelity to Jesus and the involate womb.
Much as people may decry the 'dumbing down' of politics, it was ever thus. A US election campaign is, if successful, invariably a mystifying charade of 'personalities' without personality, depoliticised politics, humourless wit, value-free values... And all of this histrionic display, all of this theatre, all of these gladiatorial trappings, can only sustain a slender pretense that something other than a gentleman's duel between different sectors of capital is taking place.If anything, an understatement. The leitmotifs of this campaign may all sound the chord for change, and we may yet be engaged in a series of fruitless, draining border skirmishes with the various barbarian tribes at the far frontiers of the empire, but still it's hard to recall an election more thoroughly dedicated to the maintenance of the status quo, as both candidates pledge to return the United States to mid-Clinton prosperity and global "respect."
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Listening to the GOPster confab this evening on the radio, I'm struck by the odd enthusiasms of the crowd. In the midst of a drowsy perambulation around some point or other, Cindy McCain, high on some demonic mixture of Tussin and Phenobarbital, gave a shout-out to some survivor of the Rwandan civil war. She said something to the extent of indescribable horrors and violence, and the crowd burst into rapturous cheering and applause. This prior to the post-applause "and survived," or endured, or triumphed, or whatever. Then Big John himself, near the opening of his speech, said that Americans are having a hard time putting gas in their cars and food on their tables, and the crowd went nuts, chanting "USA! USA!" We suck! Yeah!
God help me, I don't know how Wolcott can stand to watch Kudlow, or any actor on the financial infotainment networks. (Incidentally, am I the only one who imagines that Kudlow is pinstriped even without his suit?) A man with the voice of an alien and the temperment of a homeless streetcorner reverend, Kudlow has never once been right about anything, except insofar as it is true that good cocaine can be totally fun. As with many so-called supply-side conservatives, he proposes that "market forces" determine imponderable business happenstances that are manifestly unrelated to any function of or input from the market, i.e. executive compensation. As with his free-market brethren, he spent the formative years of his career suckling at the public teat, working for the New York Fed and in various political offices before parachuting into Bear Stearns, where he did nothing of note but raid his own retirement account in order to buy blow. He became a Catholic while continuing to despise the poor, which seems about par for the apostolic course, and now he appears on TV to assure us that the market in which utter and absolute wisdom he believes is a schizophrenic paranoid that ducks and runs in terror at the slightest utterance from this or that politician. This strikes me as the best, funniest characteristic of our soi-disant capitalists. Like all human gods, the oceanic intelligence of their deity, when examined on the merits imputed to it by its worshippers, appears to be petty, vengeful, mercurial, and a little bit retarded.
Isn’t that deeply, deeply frightening? Even if you are fundamentally conservative - especially if you are fundamentally conservative - don’t you recognize the atavism of the appeals being made, and doesn’t it frighten and disgust you? There is certainly no "Principle of Good Order" at work here, or prudent recognition of mortal limits, or even a grateful recognition of the authority of one’s betters. And if you’re a liberal, dedicated to human flowering and the role of government in fostering it, don’t you quail before the gibbering face of vox populism? This is the system by which one will do the greatest good for the greatest number? And more darkly, do these bastards deserve Health Care; good jobs at good wages; "a quality, affordable education"; The Presumption of Innocence? Shouldn’t any system that rewards and results in such proudly precognitive slavering be sanely restricted in its scope and sweep? Shouldn’t we, indeed, try to figure out how to do without it?See, this is why I keep saying that insofar as it represents, at root, a matter of succession, democracies in all their various and sundry forms are no more rational, reasonable, equitable, or just than patrilineal descent or a roll of the dice. Succession in post-Republic Rome, with its kooky mixture of democratic processes, military coups, genealogical imperatives, aristocratic intrigues, and pure, dumb luck might have been the most similar process to the one we got goin', but all throughout the history of states and empires each system in and of itself managed to produce a few wise statesmen amidst a gaggle of pure crazies. The fact that we farm out our selection process to The People is not inherently wise, nor good, nor fair. It ensures only that we can blame our neighbors for the bastards that lead us ever toward ruin, rather than blaming the poor issue of some half-impotent monarch, or the College of Cardinals, or the alignment of stars. Democracy does not, in other words, pick the best rulers. Occasionally, good rulers happen to democracy. And by "good rulers," I only mean: warlords who manage to increase the domestic comfort and protect the plain people from the cruel practices necessary for the maintenance of their comfortable lives.
-Jim Henley on the GOP convention, etc.
I am so tired of listening to people prattle on about America this, America that, as if we represent some social apotheosis heretofore unseen upon this earth. I'm certainly tired of the fierce conviction of every political partisan that he is going to fix America. Take it back. Make it better. Faster. Stronger. Whatever. To the questions: what are we going to do? what are you doing?--I'm proud to report: not a damn thing, and as actively as I can. This is especially true in the realm of national politics. The Democratic Convention, with all its post-Kennedy raptures about worlds safe for democracy and men on the moon and chickens in every pot was bad enough, but I dare you to watch the vicious spectacle in St. Paul, the mewling chorus of creationist morons worshipping like Spielbergian Thuggees at the alter of destruction, and contemplate that they represent a full 50% of your countrymen, who haven't even the decency to require circumspection from their empire of death, and tell me that what this nation--this world--needs is more elections.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Added to blogroll: my favorite local blogger, The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat. I don't often get into any Pittsburgh deep local shit around here, so there are scant opportunities for linkage, but here's a fun one on national, uh, dating.
My boundless affection for this city owes in large part to its preposterous identity as a sort of Kafkaesque Anarchy--that is to say that Pittsburgh has accreted so extraordinary a collection of government agencies and pseudo-agencies, foundations and non-profits, networks and upworks and inworks and downworks and authorities and agencies and organizations, that I'm gradually coming to suspect all three dozen of its remaining citizens are ultimately employed at the pleasure of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, an exact contemporary of Sarah Palin's forthcoming grandchile. This titanic, Babelian edifice of duplicative redundancy ensures that for all intents and purposes, our city is as lawless as Bogota, but fatter and lazier, therefore somewhat less violent. Traffic circulates, but no one is precisely certain how, and no two people agree on a route from place to place. Road construction occurs always and everywhere, but makes no improvements. Mysterious characters are awarded immense public works projects, then fail to pay their contractors. The Commonwealth insists on oversight, but their overseers just get coopted into the architecture of governmental artifice. This, friends, is the future of American civilization.
Personally I find Bernard-Henri Lévy rather insufferable--a fine journalist of the Atlantic Monthly mold who has convinced and been convinced that he's a philosopher, but in reading a recent review of Left in Dark Times, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, I came across this odd sentence:
For Lévy "nothing good can come for the Left" without breaking with much of its history, especially softness on totalitarianism.I suppose it has more meaning within the context of the French leftist intelligentsia, which was for Stalin before it was against him, or sort of for Stalin before it was against him, or had a couple of notably pro-Soviet members who eclipsed in the reactionary imagination the very fraught and difficult relationship between European leftists and the Soviet Union. As a general diagnosis, however, it engages the old, callow smear: that the "left," whatever and wherever that might be, was soft on Communism, the most monstrous of all ideologies.
The truth is that the adherents to and proponents of all political ideologies are the heirs of and aspirants to totalitarianism--the left was soft on socialist tyrannies and the right on fascist ones. At the root of political ideologies is the desire to rule, and the desire to rule obliterates ideological distinctions ever more quickly as it begins to achieve its desired ends. The idea that one or other politics is most prone to tolerating authoritarian government is mere chauvinism. No corner of the political spectrum is inherently more limited in its aims than any other.
As Hurricane Gustav approached the Gulf Coast, the President left the comfortable environs of Washington, DC for a "command center" closer to the action--first in Austin, TX, then in San Antonio. Now Washington is about a thousand miles from New Orleans, whereas Austin and San Antonio are both . . . five hundred miles distant. What's this sort of thing supposed to symbolize? I mean, even if the President were to personally take over the minute-by-minute command of relief efforts, it's not as if he'd be communicating by smoke signal and semaphore . . . or would he?
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
On 9/11, would you feel safe if Sarah Palin was president?The utter crassness and apparent unanimity of the Donk's pivot on the Importance of Experience, now that they have some dummy chick to whale on, is the sort of Soviet touch that makes me suspect our empire may be perne in a gyre, as the poet put it, of greater speed than I'd be otherwise inclined to believe. At first the Experience line was vague, just a thin notion that Palin lacked the requisite CV, that maybe she was a little underqualified, but hey, we'll keep your resume on file for a year and maybe call you if something opens up. Now, however, it has coalesced around the idea that We Live in a Dangerous World. How can this bimbo Keep Us Safe.
On 9/11, would you feel safe if the man who picked someone as ludicrously unqualified as Sarah Palin as his running mate was president?
-Tristero @ Digz
The theme of safety within the warm embrace of the fatherland under the watchful eye of a stalwart guardian, i.e. Commander-in-Chief, was of course the central motif of the last Most Important Presidential Election since 1860, and at the time Democrats hollered that this infantile conception of a nation of helpless sheep protected by a watchful, White-House shepherd ran contrary to the Spirit of '76 and Rugged Individualism and Civil Liberties and John Locke and Jesus and god-only-knows-who-else. Much quoting of Franklin on liberty and security. Much hair-pulling and garment-rending over the susceptibility of folks to arguments that they must over-empower their government or else die at the dusky hands of evildoing terrorists.
Now the shoe is on the other foot, glove on the other hand, vice on the other versa, and die-hard partisans like the above-cited want us to contemplate the horror of having some oft-prego chick twirling her hair and reading US Weekly while the barbarians are at the gate. (And I'm cynical, a nihilist! Yoy.) We live in uncertain times. I bet someone's going to haul out the Existentialist Threat any moment now. "Can you trust Sarah Palin to escalate the war in Afghanistan?"
No one, of course, felt safe on 9/11, not even those of us whose first thoughts had to do with homecoming chickens and their roosts. It was a frightful day, although far less so for the 275 million or so of us outside of metro New York and Washington than the typical day in the life of an Iraqi or Afghani or Palestinian, etc. But in the time since we have seen the bipartisan pursuit of precisely those imperial policies which provoked that attack, and since neither John McCain nor Barack Obama nor Sarah Palin nor Joe Biden has sought to repudiate America's policy of invading other countries and blowing other people up, the question of which administration will make me safer is irrelevant; the answer is neither. The question is moot.
Make love when you can. It's good for you.It turns out that the sexy librarian is crazy and corrupt, which is entirely unshocking. Rural politics are like that. If anything, I find it endearing, as Alaska politics seem to me to closely resemble county politics in my own near, dear Appalachain borderlands. The fact that she apparently associated for a time with some Alaska secessionists attracts me to her even more, so charmingly quixotic is the mere notion that the US will voluntarily deprive itself of full possession of Seward's resource-rich, Russia-bordering folly.
The question of her daughter's pregnancy interests me. Liberals are of course quick to accuse her of a sort of hypocrisy. True, the more stringent one's public morals, the more likely one is to be exposed as a hypocrite. Democrats point to Gov. Palin's support for so-called abstinence education, and note with a shadenfreudenous glee were Palin's so-called pro-life position ratified as law, her 17-year-old daughter would not be choosing to keep her child, but obligated to keep it.
The liberal mindset is essentially managerial, and so he's wrapped up in metrics and outputs and benchmarking. Abstinence education doesn't work because the numbers don't bear it out. Restrictions on abortion have no effect on unwanted, unplanned pregnancies. Etc. Meanwhile, conservatives have the outlook of the marketing department, not the business unit. Their interest is in what the slogan says about the brand. The claims they make are perceptual, not factual. Does Crest really whiten better than Colgate? The ingredients are the same. Who cares? Their support for abstinence education, to take an example, isn't about convincing people to abstain from pre-marital sex. It's about what it says about the brand. For a party so wrapped up in American protestantism, they have a real Renaissance-Papist ability to view public morality as a realm distinct from private virtue.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Living in the future is like totally awesome. One guy running for president is a secretly Muslim mulatto terrorist subversive, the kind of dude who's supposed to be living outside the city walls in the radioactive wasteland that was once the earth. His running mate is a loquacious droid assembled in the basement of a secret Visa/Mastercard facility. His opponent is an insane former soldier who can't conceal his cruel rictus whenever the topic of Death comes up. His opponent's running mate is one of Captain Kirk's girlfriends. I swear to Jesus that the Mayans were right about this whole 2012 thing. I might have become a Christian if someone had told me the End Times were going to be this fucking hilarious.