This is why I love Western PA. Listen to this dude from Perryopolis, a tiny town about 12 miles from where I grew up.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
. . . that today in the WaPo and a gajillion other rags where her column is syndicated, Kathleen Parker explains that McCain picked his veep because she was a Mom He'd Like to Fuck. Oh man. She even gets in a Napoleon/Josephine jibe. I love this country.
I can't in, uh, good faith link him directly, but I can link to The Editors linking him, and by him, of course, I mean rebbe Dennis Prager, who worries:
The sexual confusion that same-sex marriage will create among young people is not fully measurable. Suffice it to say that, contrary to the sexual know-nothings who believe that sexual orientation is fixed from birth and permanent, the fact is that sexual orientation is more of a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality. Much of humanity--especially females--can enjoy homosexual sex. It is up to society to channel polymorphous human sexuality into an exclusively heterosexual direction — until now, accomplished through marriage.The persistent male conviction that lesbianism is more prevalent than dude-on-dude action is, how-you-say, perfectly reflective of a desperate insecurity in the masculine psyche. Otherwise, what strikes me most about this sort of writing is how Prager pivots from a reasonable and mature view of the actual nature of human sexuality to an insane and alarmist declaration that It Must Be Controlled. The dogmatic insistence that sexual "orientation" is biologically predetermined and innate, and that because it's inherent it must not be used as a basis for discrimination, has always struck me as farcically reductionist, an argument for determining a just social order by cataloging those things which cannot be helped and agreeing not to pay attention to them.
But sexuality isn't the same as race (well, even race isn't the same as race), and though it, like all human behaviors, has genetic and hormonal antecedents, it is not mere biological determinism that causes me to suck cock. Predilection is not identity. Human sexuality does exist on a spectrum; its characteristics and emphases change even within the individual over the course of a lifetime. Some people have very stable sexual interests; others "oscillate wildly," as goes the title of The Smiths' song. The fight against discrimination based on sexual identity is categorically confused: sexuality doesn't constitute an identity. It constitutes a portion of the totality of each autonomous individual identity, and the reason not to discriminate against those whose sexual tastes and practices diverge from your own is not that minority sexualities constitute a protected class, that like the color of one's skin, the angle of one's wrist is genetic and, goddamnit, queers are people too. It's simply that fucking is none of your fucking business.
For divines like Dennis P., though, moral autonomy in the absence of demonstrable harm to others is just crazy talk. They perceive themselves as agents of heavenly authority, and they believe that they're compelled to enforce their deity's moral injunctions on others here on this earth. Ultimately Prager et al. are making a very tired argument about sin and free will, claiming that in sexual behaviors and practices there are right and wrong choices, good and evil ones. (Their god is extremely punctilious in these matters.) You have the freedom to choose, but you must choose correctly. The proper action is determined in advance by the formal, scriptural strictures on morality and good conduct. God created the tree in your garden; don't eat the fruit.
Religious moralists interestingly see sin as infinitely more alluring than righteousness. They are beset by temptation. Prager sounds like some of the more extravagant queens I know as he proclaims that straight men everywhere are going to be swiftly and easily turned. Ooo, girl, he says he's straight . . . Truly, though, gay sex is much less popular, and while exposing The Children Who Are The Future to early and frank talk about homosexual variants of sexual practice will bless them with much less consternation about that time in seventh grade when you and your buddies jerked off together to that porno you stole from Billy Baron's house down the street, it will not, in fact, turn the nation into a bathhouse . . . to my chagrin.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
It's just objectively true that there is no country in the world -- anywhere -- that threatens to attack and bomb other countries as routinely and blithely as the U.S. does. What rational leader wouldn't want to obtain nuclear weapons in a world where the "superpower" is run by people like Dan Coates and Chuck Robb who threaten to attack and bomb whatever countries they want? Even the Coats/Robb Op-Ed argues that Iranian proliferation would be so threatening to the U.S. because "the ability to quickly assemble a nuclear weapon would effectively give Iran a nuclear deterrent" -- in other words, they'd have the ability to deter a U.S. attack on their country, and we can't have that.Credit where it's due. It cuts to the bone. And yet I once again have to point out how plainly these observations illustrate the futility of voting for Barack Obama--how they illustrate the violent complicity inherent in giving positive affirmation, a vote of moral legitimacy, to these monsters through exercise of your political franchise. I'll say it again: abstention is the honorable course of action.
And then there is the supreme irony that Coats, Robb and their war-threatening comrades justify an attack on Iran by referencing U.N. Resolutions which Iran is putatively violating, even though Article 2 of the U.N. Charter explicitly provides that "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state." Yet Supremely Serious Bipartisan Leaders like Coats and Robb who shape U.S. foreign policy -- along with the rest of our political establishment -- routinely violate that provision more than any other country in the world, by constantly threatening to invade and bomb a whole roster of other nations.
Glenn Greenwald is almost infinitely more perceptive (certainly less willfully self-deluded) on these matters than the average Democratic partisan, less yet self-described internet "progressive", and I'm going to try to refrain from putting words in his mouth or checks on his ballot. Nonetheless, note how his observations typify a certain brand of left-libertarian thought that surveys the political scene, gets spooked by the Republican selection of Captain Ahab and Vaslav Nijinski for their presidential ticket, and decides to cast its lot with Obama despite all of the above-excerpted realizations. Obama's articulate, thoughtful, deliberatory demeanor are transmuted into moral rectitude, whitewashing the more troubling understanding that gnaws at the fringe of conscience: that of John McCain and Barack Obama, Obama is the greater monster.
Fresh off Ollie Stone's latest minimum opus, popular sentiment has once again seized on the idea of George W.'s life as a villanelle of Oedipal moments, but it's actually John McCain, jerk-off scion of a long line of martial notables, who embodies that miasma of Freudian failures and resentments. A failure in the military, he redeemed himself by enduring captivity, a feat of personal courage which he parlayed into a career as a more-corrupt-than-average politician. Possessing only a second-rate intellect and third-rate personality, he evaded damage from scandal by taking the easy high road under duress, admitting tangential wrongdoing, and expressing contrition. He cultivated the press merely by treating them as social equals when he was in their company--it really is that easy--and acquired his reputation for independence by taking some very mildly heterodox stands on issues of niggling importance: for instance, campaign finance reform. He sometimes claims that acceding to the fact of human impact on the global climate was a mark of brave political independence, but if that is so, then so is standing before the Congress of the United States and declaring that the sky is blue, the water wet.
But to the reluctant Obama supporters, the hedging anti-imperial types, McCain's bellicosity is the central issue, and they delude themselves into believing that the principle danger of a McCain administration is that he would "start more wars." That may or may not be true, and given the current political climate, any Republican administration, particularly his, would be hamstrung by the factional corridor politics of the American imperial court in Washington. The characteristic of McCain's jingoism to bear in mind, though, is that it actually represents the unintegrated, incoherent mindset and world-view of most ordinary Americans; an unstirred suspension of nationalist pride, cultural ignorance, fear of otherness, and flag-waving military pride. None of these is good, but they all occur simultaneously in minds prone to dissipation, inaction, indecision, and fear of consequence.
Obama, meanwhile, has all the marks of a man with an integrated and coherent view of the central issues to the maintenance of American hegemony, and he should be expected to pursue the project of American dominance with more focus and more success. I won't make bones about it. By the standard American-history-text measures, I expect an Obama presidency to be a successful one, surely at least a gradual reversion to mean. This will please his partisan supporters and most progressives (read: Restorationists), who will remain blithely oblivious to what precisely it represents: the more skillfully executed subjugation of other peoples to the needs of the American empire. To those who claim to oppose the American imperial project, that should be the focus of opposition.
The moral rubric is a simple one: carefully constructed, premeditated crimes are in almost every case worse than "crimes of passion." A man who kills his wife in a terrible, heated fight is bad; a man who plots to have her murdered, make it look like an accident, collect the insurance, and keep her wealth is worse. What frightens me is not the prospect of a failed, erratic President, but of a successful, steady one.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Speaking in Seattle, Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden literally warned that literally anything could happen literally within the first six picoseconds of an Obama presidency. "The world is literally looking at this guy, and saying literally, 'I'm comin' at you.'"
"You people are literally going to have to gird your loins," Biden went on to tell supporters, promising that Barack Obama was literally going to be forced at gunpoint to make decisions and to choose course of actions that would literally make supporters sick.
"You've literally got a banking crisis, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, sub-prime mortagages, Fannie and Freddie, and the failed policies of the Bush administration fighting a cage match to see who will literally grab Barack's attention first. And the winner of that fight is literally going to occupy his full attention."
"As for you," he told supporters, "We literally do not care what you think."
Monday, October 20, 2008
This made me laugh. Christian dispensationalism is generally hilarious, and trying to ferret out any coherency just ruins the fun. I mean, the Jews got the Midrash and Gemara, and Catholics get Canon Law and post-denominational American evangelicals get . . . Left Behind. Revelation was always one of my favorite science fiction texts, and the voluminous fanfic industry that's grown up around it makes me sad, as I am always sad to see good works tarnished by lame imitators. Remember when Frank Herbert's kid decided that he was going to be like Christopher Tolkein, only better, and started cranking out Dune: Sex God and Dune: House Retardo at a rate of fifty-thousand pages a year? It's like that . . . only worse.
My only point is this: David Bowie was right.
So is one of the tenets of socialism redistribution of the wealth? Not just socialism — a lot of other liberal and left wing philosophies — redistribution of the wealth? I don't believe in it. I believe in wealth creation by Joe the Plumber.This Joe the Plumber dude is beginning to poach on the territory of another dude who spent some time in the Trades, and I can't imagine the Locals are gonna like it.
I guess you could point out that plumbers aren't exactly the engine that drives an economy, and that even if the Romans did prove that good plumbing is the central necessity of a durable empire, the butt-cracked wrench-wielders themselves are in a derivative profession, performing services-for-fees: important labor, for sure, but not exactly the central productive activity of a national economic system.
But the thing is. Here you have John McCain, an agèd bundle of entitled resentment, long past his age of political vitality, revealed as inadequate for prime time, going on like some also-ran wannabe county councilman, the sort who confines himself by necessity to angry letters to the editor, while Barack Obama promises to take his forty gajillion dollars and buy the Universe and turn gravity into sunshine and dark matter into Skittles with the transformational hope of his change-powered Diktatorship of the Proletariat. Everyone is all like, "John McCain is running a negative campaign." True, but nothing to get to worked up about. He's not running it very well.