I just want to say that the banning of Terry Gross is a service to the humans of Mississippi even if it originated in prudishness. Curtis White memorably labelled Gross' Fresh Air a pornographic farce, although he regrettably dilated upon that pithy three-word phrase and revealed himself to be a sort of Catherine MacKinnon to Terry Gross, pornographer, a dour, priggish scold, deaf to his own incoherence. (A fine dismantling of White's ridiculous book-length expostulation on his original Harper's article is found here.) Anyway, with the possible exception of Garrison Keilor, whose 6:00 PM, Saturday-evening interruptions of Pittsburgh's classical radio station fill me with the urge to see if I can't turn his bullshit basso profundo into a counterternor, there is nothing on public radio so reeking of intellectually indolent self-satisfaction as the Terry Gross Radio Hour, which elevates mediocre art to rarefied genius and then subjects its creators to a crypto-Freudian machine-gunning ("So, like, you were molested by a priest in a lobster suit on a hot air balloon as a girl. Is that reflected in your new album?"), takes absolutely run-of-the-mill, center-left, progressive political commenters and whispers in worshipful colloquy about what could happen if only smart people, sensitive types, and scientists ran the world, and finally gives over the final 15 minutes of every show to some aggressively caucasian music critic with a fondness for lost blues artists who sound like carpet remnants from the brainspace of Richard Pryor.
Friday, July 16, 2010
WASHINGTON - The Israeli helicopter commandos that descended on the flotilla in a deady raid had extensive connections with the United States' political elite, and the group's effort to maintain Israel's blockage of Gaza received support at the top levels of the governing party, American diplomats and government officials said.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The sentimental American affection for scammers and con men is this country's most enduring, charming, and wonderful aspect, and our ability to pay just about anything to be told what it is we want to hear, from caffeine-cracked, Docker-clad conferencees sucking at the management guru teat to the CIA paying $5 million bucks to some random Iranian for information about a "nuclear program", well, it never fails to amaze and impress.
For $5 million bucks, I have important information on the Iranian nuclear program. Shit, I'll put pins in a map for a fifty-spot a piece.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Here's a Who Is IOZ? pop quiz. The US is about to scuttle reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan and escalate tensions with Pakistan. Is it because:
a.) "American officials remain extremely skeptical that the Haqqani network’s senior leaders could ever be reconciled with the Afghan government."
b.) It creates another pretext for long-term occupation, which has been the point all along.
c.) Jane will get to Cincinnati in 3.5 hours, and Joe will arrive 1 hour and 23 minutes later.
d.) Allium cepa.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I just want to say that despite the best efforts of Nice Liberals to portray the Tea Party folks as a gang of unwashed backwoods slackjaws, googly-eyed cryptofascist racists, insane conspiracy-mongers driven to rage by Obama's insufferable half-blackness, they actually appear to have consistent principles. So even a church-going tea-partier who personally dislikes the idea of some gays getting married can hold true to the idea that when he says shit oughta be left to the states, he means shit oughta be left to the states. Whereas your average liberal/proggie is still accusing Michael Steele of terrorism or something for calling the war in Afghanistan folly. Cue someone at Kos to gratuitously interject with the phrase, "Our President."
Where the devolution of power from a monolithic centralized authority to smaller political units is concerned, "states rights" is grossly inadequate, but it's certainly moving in the right direction, and it's a thousand times more admirable than the cult of the fucking presidency. Consider this. On the side of the Defense of Marriage Act: a president and political party that claim to support and lurve gays. Opposing it: the people who supposedly represent the worst elements of revanchist America.
Or you could have an economy that manufactures tons of hair-cutting implements and every household cuts its own hair, or else an economy that manufactures relatively few of those implements and people generally get their hair cut by professionals. In those cases, a move toward more services is a sign of economic progress.Obviously the reason that Yglesias picks these sorts of absurd examples to avoid looking at what actually happens when labor is moved wholesale into an at-will, low-wage, part-time, service-sector economy, of which there are ample, real, documented, and damning real examples. It is indicative of the paucity and woeful, willful ignorance of the argument that we must consider a parallel universe in which a society of scissor-makers is replaced by a . . . well, actually, a society of people blowing their unemployment benefits at Aveda. (And by the way, a relevant aside: many millions of households do cut their own hair, because they work in bullshit fucking service-sector WalMart-greeter jobs and they can't fucking afford SuperCuts you fucking idiot, you catastrophic, abomidable goddamn ignoramus.) Consider the following situation. You are the mayor of a small town in rural central Pennsylvania, your local economy long-ago decimated by the evacuation of the coal industry. Would you rather have a scissor factory or a hair salon move into town? Which would represent economic fucking progress? Eh?
Unhappy with this little exercise in tonsurephilia, Yglesias unclenches his butt cheeks and really lets rip:
As employment in the industrial sector has declined, it’s become cliché to say that we “don’t make things” in America anymore. The reality is quite different. Industrial production declined during the recession (as it always has) but the long-term trend is way, way up. It’s just like the situation in agriculture—we’re not a society of farmers anymore, but we grow lots of food. Over time, we hope more and more of the developing world will industrialize, but that’s not to say we hope the world won’t make anymore food. We hope food will be made efficiently and that people will find more productive employment elsewhere."We're not a society of farmers anymore, but we grow lots of food." Obviously millions and millions of people work on farms. It's just that many of them are migrants and foreign nationals. Industrialized agriculture doesn't necessarily employ fewer people than the family farm, it just pays them shit and offers them no ownership or equity stake in the enterprise of farming. (And, by the way, if by "farmers" you mean owners and operators of farms and "society of" you mean political influence, then the statement is largely bullshit anyway; "farmers" like our friends at Monsanto are very much a leading component of society.)
The conditions of wage-slavery aside, there is nothing inherently wrong with exchanging labor for remuneration, whether goods or currency, but the problem here, as always, is that the exchange value of labor is set only by the surplus value in capital. Thus do we find agriculture, which is the most productive form of labor and the most essential and necessary at any level of social organization above the tribe implicitly condemned as unproductive, because the farm labor of the "industrializing world" doesn't generate additional capital. All it does is grow food. What are we gonna do with that?
More simply, the problem, the complaint, the conundrum, is the largescale forcible transition of people from industrial jobs with wages that at least pretended to be sufficient for a human family to survive in relative comfort and security to service jobs paying minimum wage, from full-time employment with "benefits" to part-time employment without. Yglesias labors, you'll pardon the expression, under the assumption that the factory is better than the field, the office better than the factory, and from his position within the bourgeoisie that may be so, but when a former line assembly worker finds himself working in the office three nights a week as a janitor, he may be less inclined to thank the new economy.
I get a kick out of the twisting and corkscrewing and phrasemaking in order to understand "actual ideology of our political press."
You think in such three-dimensional terms.The American press hasn't got an ideology of its own. The American press shares the collective, consensus, state capitalist ideology of the ruling class of the American state. (Presumably, Jay Rosen thinks that Democrats and Republicans are ideologically distinct.) Rather than asking after the press' ideology, the question should be: what is the purpose of the American press? Better: what is its use?
-The Borg Queen
The answer is simple enough to satisfy the law of parsimony. The purpose or use of the American press is to buttress the legitimacy of the American state.
From this basic statement we can derive its diverse range of fundamentally subsidiary functions: to promote the fictions of honest debates between honestly oppositional factions; to depict military aggression as defensive or, at worst, mistakenly reactionary; to further the false characterization of our "democratic" government as flawed but fundamentally participatory; and, related to this last point, to further the fiction that the state's legitimacy is exogenous to the mechanisms of the state itself and its governing mechanisms and endogenous to "the people," whomever they are. (And obviously, that list isn't exhaustive.)
Seen correctly, everything about the American press makes perfect sense, becomes almost comically straightforward. Oh, okay, the press isn't an entity independent of the state; it is one more mechanism of state control. As some of our dimmer commenters are fond of pointing out, usually in a tone that suggests they believe themselves to be The First Person Ever On The Internet to achieve this brilliant height of reason, in "An Anarchy" (double-LULZ), the gang with the biggest baddest guns will swiftly take over. (As another wise commenter pointed out, this, more than anything, proves that anarchy isn't Utopia; it's the here-and-now.) The purpose of the American press is to assure us that this is not the case, that the state's monopolistic claims to legitimate use of force arise paradoxically from a source (younz and me) that simultaneously constitutes the actual composition of the state and yet remains external to it, and that because no governed person may withhold his consent to be governed, he has therefore given it.
Monday, July 12, 2010
You think in such three-dimensional terms.Although I really love J.R. Boyd's ladypoverty blurgh, I find myself blindingly furious at him for forcing me to contemplate Richard Florida, who is some kind of genetic chimera of Ron Popeil, Jane Jacobs, Albert Speer, and a baboon. We have encountered Doc Floridia here before. He got rich and made the political celebrity D-list by coining the term "the creative class." The creative class does not refer to the Genesis P. Orrige Memoiral Pre-Operative Vegan Theatrical Art Happening Collective Ensemble squatting in the warehouse down the street, but to some gay non-profit administrator and his artist boyfriend and their haughty little dog and their Victorian row house. It refers in other words to white people of reasonable means and questionable sexuality. Oh, dooooo go on, Rich. Florida's hypothesis is that where there are gays, there are ways. But of course, the gays didn't rescue Pittsburgh from its post-industrial decline. UPMC, an "$8 billion integrated global health enterprise" did that. The "creative class" follows; it does not lead.
-The Borg Queen
Anyway, look, my question is: what is The Economy. I say, there is no economy. The economy is a fiction. A failed metaphor. A term so broad in definition that it has none. Is that too flippant, too glib? Okay. Yaaaaah, the economy in a tiered and pyramidal hierarchy of increasingly inhuman interests overlaid an inverted tiered pyramid of possession. Well, but, no, not really, because the economy isn't really about possession, per se; the accumulated "wealth" in currency and fancy shit of the richiest-rich is incidental to the economy. Bill Gates fortune is a partially convertible abstraction of a metaphoric ownership of a quantity of inactual titles to a legal entity defined by its own being-ness, which is the emergent quality of its own nonverbal declaration of its will-to-be to the commensurately abstract government of the equally probabalistic state. It exists, but it's never there. Isn't this fun? The economy is the "wisdom of the crowd," it is the "market" as a self-regulating superintelligence, the collective human superorganismic expression, the transcendent eusocial ordering of the species. The economy is to physical Homo sapiens as the mind is to the brain; as the soul is to the self. It is the metaphysical hyperreality overlaying and encompassing mundane, phenomenological reality.
And so on and so forth, until the economy, which is broadly presumed to be somehow more concrete than the flighty abstractions of art and culture and the banal abstractions of political ideology starts to sound like a long-lost Yes concept album.