"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Oct 31, 2010

On Learning That You've Irked Matt Yglesias Enough To Have Him Quote You...

Well howdy, Matt. And I still think you're as shitty as Krauthammer. Maybe I need therapy for failing to find something good about the murder brigades in Offgonneeston, right?

So, heh:


Anyway, I was reading what the clownboy wrote about getting ourselves a monarchy, when I stumbled across it.

Mayhap, I'll give a shit at greater length in the future.

Back to the clownboy and his musing on monarchy:

"...In some ways I would say the whole thing highlights a problem with republican government that wasn’t appreciated or foreseeable in the late 18th century. Since that time, many democracies—from Canada to Spain to Sweden and beyond—have hit upon the idea of denying the monarchical glow to their head of government by keeping the monarch around but denuding him/her of governing authority. Some countries, such as Germany, India, and Israel, try to have a powerless “president” fill this role but I think it doesn’t really work. Such people have too much democratic legitimacy and too little pomp and circumstance to adequately fill the king role.
So does America need a king and queen with the President demoted to a more drab functional role? I say: Perhaps. At a minimum, America’s Next First Couple could be the world’s greatest reality TV show...."

Could Yggles have given a poor leftist Overton window pushing anarchist jacques a better treat?

I think not. TeeVee, pomp, circumstance and keeping the proles in awe of ceremonial power magic, while the actually powerful quietly carve up their lives and livelihood behind the smokescreen of Spectacle. All in a single, juicy nugget. Mighty swell service, Yggles. Mighty swell...


Tee hee. Now this really warms the cockles of my heart, and it somehow seems fitting to use it as a counterpoint to the Ygglian hankering for monarchy:


Oct 30, 2010

Stupid Liberal Naïveté

Like BDR, I read Balloon Juice as a bellwether of institutional liberalism, the sort of place where you can comment from a position somewhat to the left of Harry Truman and count on thirty or so zombie crackpot realists going full tilt on your disreputable, unreasonable, impractical, childish hippieness.

So, I was somewhat shocked to find the lead off to this Broder article in disagreement with his main thesis.

Broder writes:

"...OH, YES, I know that Democrats have fallen into a peck of trouble and may lose control of Congress. But even if they do, Obama can still storm back to win a second term in 2012. He is that much better than the competition...

[Broder goes on to suggest that two forces face Obama, providing him with an opportunity to succeed even and especially if his party loses control of Congress: the business cycle, and...]

...What else might affect the economy? The answer is obvious, but its implications are frightening. War and peace influence the economy. 

Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century.*  If he can confront this threat and contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history." 

To which the solon at BJ responds, "This strikes me as both cynical and naive."

I don't know if this is the right forum in which to contest, discuss or debate Broder's central assertion, that WW2 "fixed" the American economy. We'd have to determine what broke, to decide what fixed it, as well as decide once and for all what the proper state of economic health is, or was. In other words, we'd have to firmly believe in all the tenets of institutional liberalism, and perhaps even lean into the Benthamist wind and wonder aloud at common good, commonweal and the greatest benefit for the greatest number - as well as what sort of panopticon would best secure it.

Which standards and ends mean jack fuck all to me, since they invariably stand in for "what's good for those who rule." There, dispensed with...

What surprised me, nonetheless, was the solonic assertion that Broder's's thesis was both cynical and naive. Broder's argument is precisely the argument I'd expect from a crackpot realist - even one who pretends to despise war right up until he discovers that Jews are fighting a couple of them under a banner emblazoned with the Magen David, or when he discusses wars safely ensconced in the bone rooms of the past, and always waged against Hitlers, Kaisers and redneck slave owners.

I guess I should take a moment to note that the BJ solon starts by describing Broder's piece as "an otherwise surprisingly reasonable column."

A column, you should probably know, devoted to only two propositions. First, Obama is smarter than any of his likely Republican opponents. And second, Obama should rally the nation around some Iran hate in order to get re-elected, and have more opportunities to be that wicked smart dude who defeated John McCain in the last, best, most important election before the next, most important one.

Which means, I think, that the BJ solon thinks it's utterly reasonable to making cooing noises about Obama's brain, and terribly naive and cynical to suggest that Obama do anything political or powerful with it.

Now, I'm not especially sold on Obama's intelligence. Nor do I frankly fucking care. Guy wanted power. Guy spent gadzoodles of other people's money getting it. Guy paid them back with bank bail outs, wholesale giveaways of public receipts to automakers, expanded warfare and institutional sanction for the many extensions of power enacted by his predecessor. In other words, guy acted like any other dick who wanted to rule others and break some heads doing so.

So, I cannot for the life of me understand what's "cynical" or "naive" about suggesting that he do a little more of the same, to keep that power for a bit longer, to the benefit of them who brought him there.

Then again, I'm not a shitty and actually naive little liberal who thinks that guys with trillions of dollars worth of soldiery and soldier toys will somehow play nice, on account of the sentiments of shitty little liberals, or in deference to their managerial conceits...

* - purest swill, but I don't need to tell you that, do I?...


Now, to clear both solonic liberalism and Versaille bloodthirst out of your heads:

I think I first saw this particular version, courtesy of BDR.

And, for the simple joy of it:

Oct 29, 2010

No Lesser Evil

Surprise, surprise - I agree with Oxtrot. I do not agree with OHollern (h/t BDR).

OHollern writes:

"All the same, I’ve considered the arguments and have reluctantly concluded that the Administration is right. We have to vote for their side because the alternative is worse."

You don't have to vote. I don't have to vote. But...if you think the protection racket ought to have a few more thugs running it, vote for the Tea Tea Macoutes. If you think the protection racket ought to have a few more austerians in key offices, vote for the Democrats. Neither is a lesser evil. Neither. They're both equally awful. The Tea Tea Macoutes will fagstomp, harass, criminalize, bomb and imprison their opponents, and the proles who don't have giant Other identifiers marking them as outsiders will for the most part go along, because let's face it, a choice between a Mexican laborer a thousand miles away, and losing your children, is no choice at all. The Democratic austerians will starve, reform, consolidate and transfer away the remainder of the Commons, so long as the banks win and the wars stay somewhere Over There. Republicans: fascist violence, one day. Democrats: starvation, and then Republican fascist violence, one day.

"Far worse. Unthinkable, in fact. Just watch the video of that simian thug slamming his foot on a woman’s head at a Rand Paul event to get a glimpse of where the extreme Right will take us given half the chance. These people carry guns. They relish violence. They think the Founding Fathers intended for this country to be a Christian theocracy. They believe God hates gays, Muslims and liberal elites with equal ferocity and will gladly bash us in the head if we disagree. They’re pissed off and they want a Fuhrer."

Yep. True. All true. But...if my choices really are reduced to an actual either/or, between technocratic austerians who will leave me in the dirt with a handout and a sloppy kiss once they get their Yglesian political singularity, or Jesusian fascists who will stomp me in the dirt and re-educate my kids once once they get their strong, small efficient state - I'll take the outright fascists, thank you very much.

"Bwuh?" you ask?

I can put a target on a fascist's head. I can fight him, and his small, lean, efficient protection racket.

We can do that.

We haven't yet managed to take down a single bank or investment house. Not one.

So, let's make way for the fascists. They'll still be financed by the banks and defcos, but the connection will be a whole lot more obvious.

A gamble? Sure. Life ain't always lucky...

"They’re doing the muscle work for the plutocrats who really run things, and who only need one more bout of Republican political control in order to permanently institutionalize their power. Not to be too melodramatic about it, but they must be stopped."

Yep. True. All true. But...the Dems? They are the plutocrats.  They can do all their damage under the aegis of "reform" and what the fuck all can we do about it, really?

"I know, I know, the Democrats are taking us into a similarly dark place. True enough, but they’re doing it more slowly and with some anaesthesia. It’s realistically all we’ve got at this point.
All along, I’ve thought we were the reincarnation of the last decadent days of Rome, a fat dead culture in the throes of an organic and unstoppable decline. Now I’m wondering if we more closely resemble Germany in 1933. Perhaps a uniquely American mixture of both? No matter. There are outright fascists at the core of the Republican party. They’re heavily subsidized, and their chosen candidates are getting uncomfortably close to power. If the only alternative is to vote for corrupt, center-right, go-along-to-get-along Establishment Democrats, that’s just what it will have to be for now. Better Boss Tweed than Mussolini"

Nyet. No. Non. Ne rien. Mussolini, like Hitler, fell - and took the whole state with him. Because those fascist protection rackets are too lean and mean to survive transition. They win - or they lose completely. As Camus noted all those many decades ago, the all-or-nothing maximalist often ends up with nothing.

Boss Tweed? That fucker died long before Hitler or Mussolini and his system still exists today...

Oct 28, 2010

Wee Hours Thought

Yapping away at power confirms it. Acting reasonably towards those with the guns doesn't get them to play nice. It's showing them your soft white dog belly. Unless you're clever enough to use that as cover, it's to no avail.

Want [insert wealthy, powerful bastard's name] to listen, to pay attention?

Frighten him. 

It's no guarantee that you'll get what you want - but he'll stop treating you like one of the interchangeable, faceless help.

If you want to keep up the appearance of a faceless servant, well...

Oct 27, 2010

Know Nothing But

As of this year, almost forty percent of all Iraqis will have known nothing but the occupation of their homes by American oppressors:

"0-14 years: 38.8% (male 5,711,187/female 5,514,794)"

Those at the upper limit of the range were four years old when the US invaded their country. Eleven million, out of twenty-nine million total, whose normality is occupation.

That's the point of staying in Iraq.

Having children who grow into adulthood knowing nothing but occupation.

And if you think it doesn't work - check out what's left of Palestine. When your frame of reference is occupation, when all you know is that your home really belongs to soldiers and the army, who can enter and  invade it at will - you negotiate, fight and defend yourself from that position. Your enforced disadvantage means that any "gains" you make still end up being wins for your oppressor.

Gore Would Have

BDR, typing an exact truth:

"Suppose Al Gore is president and gifted with 911, a once-in-a-generation chance to redesign paradigms: is there anybody reading this who isn't convinced Al Gore wouldn't have grasped and seized the same opportunities to expand the power of the executive that George Bush did, that Barack Obama does? The one paradigm Gore - and Vice President Joe Lieberman - would have spent the most bloody capital on rebranding is the meme that Democrats are national security pussies. Bloodily rebranded."

And Syria. Lieberman-Gore would have gone after Syria, too.

Oct 26, 2010

Take A Gander At This

Shiny goodness:

"...As we analyze the conflicts between the corporate mainstream and the smaller, domestic business factions of the ruling class, we want to look at what each actor needs to accomplish economically, and then understand how this is expressed ideologically for public consumption.

For example, the long-standing American openness to foreign labor, just like the long-standing American hostility to foreign immigrants, has always reflected the needs of an industrial ruling class, and bitter competition amongst the working class, respectively.  Ideologically, the ruling class has always portrayed this as a benevolent feature of US society, without emphasizing that it coincides with ruling class aims.

Today, "openness" is articulated as the "civilized" position to take on Mexican immigration within mainstream corporate culture and among the liberal professionals who champion its perspective.  Conversely, lower tier workers whose industries are negatively impacted by the corporate deployment of an "industrial reserve army" from Mexico, to use Marx's phrase, exhibit their resentment toward immigrants in all the usual ways.  Their bigotry may be real, but it stems from an economic source.

Comparatively, the mainstream of ruling class opinion may be viewed as "more progressive" than its smaller, weaker rivals.  It is power that is progressive, because power can afford to be.

This is important to think about.  Should we align ourselves with what is "more progressive" about somebody else's rules, or engage the bigotry of our class in order to devise our own?"


That's a handy guide to the political conflict - a real one - between clients of globalized corporatists and the adherents of the same corporations' domestic allies/opponents.

One economic area where it probably breaks down, though: defense.

Worse Than Ezra Klein

Until today I had the same attitude towards Robert Greenwald as I do Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and most other representatives of the well compensated Commentariat. Ambiguous contempt. I don't care enough about them to figure out why I disdain them. They take the bosses' money to point out that the bosses have small flaws. They spend hours of each day, and tens of thousands of words doing so,  making spectacle of these small flaws. In order to very deliberately ignore all the sucking chest wounds, to quote Oxtrot's apt phrase.

And they occasionally write or say something with which I agree. Even Olbermann, as sanctimonious a paid clown as telly has ever showcased, managed a sustained departure from suckitude, with his gay marriage special comment. Not that I believe Mississippi's state legislature will ever take that to heart and abandon Angry Christ long enough to stop caring that some men enjoy loving each other. Or to admit that lesbians even exist.

Today, though, Greenwald crossed over into Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias territory. I most likely would have discovered that he already wandered that desert of the awful, if I'd had a mind to pay attention to him before. I guess I just don't check in too often to read a guy who tags himself "filmmaker." Whassa fill-muh-ker? Some kind of cousin of the knish?

Anyway, Greenwald revealed himself as the sort of mendacious but quotidian monster who belongs lumped in with Klein, Yglesias, McArdle and Krauthammer. A real embodiment of the Compleat Suck.™  Someone I'd introduce to Guevara with the evidence in hand. If I had a time machine, I'd send him back to Guernica and make him watch over and over and over again. Forever:

"Drunken shootouts and debauchery, meaningless death and mayhem -- the "Wild West" atmosphere created by the Bush Administration's criminal initiation and execution of the Iraq War is the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks in part to the rapacious greed injected into war-fighting by the liberal use of for-profit armed "security" companies, a brutal, unaccountable and unreliable swagger is increasingly the face of the U.S. in conflict zones around the world."

I kid you not, Robert Greenwald actually wrote those words. I cannot believe, five thousand years into the domination of the planet by organized warriors, Robert Greenwald has the absolute fucking gall to turn his lens on the latest invasion of Mesopotamia and muse about "unaccountable and unreliable swagger" as if George Bush alone unleashed the demon of profitable, deliberate mass murder managed and executed by licensed sociopaths.

Not content with mere windstorm hyperbole, Greenwald elevates his mendacity to the cyclonic:

"...people died, are still dying, because of these Humvee-chasing war tychoons' ineptitude and brutality, and the toll includes their own employees. Worse, even when we know that these Gordon Geeko's of the war industry oversee a machine that's killing and maiming innocent people (including U.S. soldiers!), our governments seem unwilling to do anything about it..."

Suffawinn succatash! Even the bwavey bwave soldyerboyz have died. Those innocents, they perished! The horror. The waste. All that innocent manhood lost.  Not because they took Uncle's dollar and got shipped half way around a planet in order to kill people they don't know in their own backyards, on their own doorsteps, in their own villages, wedding parties and funeral processions. Because of the "ineptitude" of  war industrialists. Yeah, that's it.

My unreal gods, Greenwald - do you really need it spelled out for you? These people knew their precise goals, the best means to achieve them, and the likely ends. They sought, exactly, chaos, you fucking maroon. Those of us with even a tenth of the requisite frontal lobe can see the point of war - of this war, of any war, of all wars. Boy George and his corporate paymasters didn't invent informed and compensated brutality, clown. Handing some of the functions of the death machine back to condottieri does not cause war to become, all suddenlike, more brutal. Our earthly masters wage war because they profit from it. They break whole cities, cracking them open to suck the marrow of life and livelihood from them, because it benefits their power. War, you fuckwit buffoon, is always about brutality in the service of profit. Every war creates the conditions of "the Wild West." War savages populations, intentionally. Governments "let that happen" because governments are protection rackets. More victims mean more subscribers. The ruination, intentional. Government won't stop it because government causes it. Would you ask a vulgar rapist to stop raping not because raped women suffer, but because other, less foulmouthed rapists might look bad, Greenwald?

Well, mayhap you would...

Still, you must know all this, don't you Bobby? Please tell us that you know that warriors take money to break things, kill people, burn villages, rape the women they encounter, murder the ones who yap about it, and generally do the awful things that governments and corporations teach them to do; evil, that they willingly learn and repeat.

Ah, never mind. I guess you don't actually know. Or you wouldn't write:

"Because the U.S. has utterly failed to reign in the hired guns under their authority in Iraq, the saloon-and-pistols atmosphere has spread unchecked to Afghanistan...I'm fed up with being humiliated -- of seeing our troops in combat zones humiliated! -- by the behavior of these unaccountable, brutal mercenary companies.." 

Would you, Bobby? Would you really write that private mercenary killing humiliates the government mercenary killers, if you actually knew better?


I think you would.

You have movies to sell...

Oct 25, 2010

The Guilty Always Glow

So, leave it to bonny Britain to pioneer some new policestatist nastiness:

"...That gadget was a SelectaDNA Spray -- a canister loaded with a harmless solution containing synthetic DNA. If a criminal attempts to burgle a premises fitted with the device, an employee can hit a panic button that alerts police to a crime in progress and simultaneously shoots out a fine mist covering everyone in the room, including the robber. And as each batch of the spray -- which glows blue under ultraviolet light -- has a unique DNA signature, police can connect the robber to the scene of the crime. 

Criminally minded readers might now be thinking, "Well, if I robbed a shop, I'd just scrub myself clean when I got home." But as Andrew Knights, managing director of SelectaDNA, explains, the solution isn't so easy to remove. "It will come off within a number of hand washes," he told AOL News. "But if you run through a spray it'll accumulate on the inside of your nostrils and ears and under the fingernails; areas that are difficult to get off." And, he notes, if a criminal doesn't have an ultraviolet light, he won't know where the liquid is lurking."

Provided by a private security firm, through the police, to businesses.

But, worry not, you civil libertarian gadflies. No government will abuse this. Because, if you've nothing to hide, you won't glow with guilt.

When you, for example, pass through the airport. Or just have a run in with the cops:

"...Knights says the sprays can reduce crime levels, but he admits the unique DNA evidence they offer has yet to be used in a prosecution.

That's not a sign of failure, though. If a suspect is scanned with a UV light at a police station (almost everyone arrested in the U.K now undergoes this procedure, no matter what crime the person is suspected of) and starts to glow, he says, "They'll generally plead guilty. The criminal knows it's better to make a plea bargain, rather than annoy the police even further by forcing them to go through the DNA testing."

That's exactly what happened when an 18-year-old burglar from the town of Rawtenstall -- some 20 miles east of Preston in northwestern England -- was hauled in for questioning last month. When he walked under a UV light at the station, his arms started to shine, explains Police Constable Phil Buck, a crime-prevention coordinator in the northern English county of Lancashire. The young offender picked up the glow when he broke into a garden center whose roof had been smeared in another crime-fighting substance: SelectaDNA Gel. "He held up his brightly glowing hands and confessed," says Buck, adding that the teen admitted breaking into the gardening store three times..."

So, get this. Only the guilty suffer determent. Only the guilty go to hell. Only the guilty glow like they belong there.

One could simply not conceive of a situation where the police start buying this shit up - say in lawn order obsessed "Middle America," or along the Mexican border, or wherever middle class white Christians especially fear their employees - and spraying crowds of people who gather to make the sort of trouble crowds make.

You know, to haul them in later and shine the Guilt Detector on them, up their noses, around their eyes, and in their ears.

Wouldn't happen here. Couldn't happen here.*

* - rule does not apply to black men; rule never applies to black men...

...if some professional liberal or managerial moderate insists that an abuse could not occur, what what, cuzza the rulahlaw, or good government, I immediately begin to operate on the assumption that someone has already begun using it against black men; if some militia nazoid insists that the vasty vast liberal conspiracy to impose capitalist socialism on all the godsfolk in the hills of Montana, or the swamps of Mississippi, is right this moment planning to do some evil, nasty thing to those saidsame godsfolk - count on them (a) wishing they could do it to black people and (b) already possessing a history of doing it to black people.

The Most Pernicious Idea in America

The rich "create" jobs.

(I know, not particularly profound.)

In Actual News

Bill Clinton has left Haiti.

Haiti remains.

Haitians, especially in Port-au-Prince, now face cholera.

Bill Clinton's teevee spots do not stop infection or the degradation of the Haitian people. Neither does texting a bank transfer on the cell phone, the price of which could buy actual medicine, food and clean water for hundreds of people.

Oct 24, 2010

Responding to Definitions

 Al @ SMBIVA has a brilliant entry:


I answered there, with this:

[Centralizers fail to understand anarchist critique because they think in terms of centralization, punishment and control.]

"...they really cannot accept that people can live together, cooperate and fundamentally disagree about a bunch of shit.

And yet - this is already exactly what happens, even under highly centralized regimes - be they familial, corporate or governmental.

The centralizing authority doesn't keep them together. It can only punish those who threaten the centralizing authority.

There are literally millions of people who go to work every day, working for a structured, punitive hierarchy - who get their work and play done, in spite of it. Who have to work around it, in order to cooperate.

I think one of the primary anarchist/decentralist critiques aims itself at this: why fuck around with the punitive authority in the first place? We already have ample evidence of people who cooperate despite its obstructive existence. Why not free up all that time and labor spent dealing with it, and have people who don't fundamentally agree do what they're already doing (cooperating, competing) without it?

And this isn't a very utopian position. What's truly utopian is the belief that punishment and authority can get women and men to have the same beliefs about society, to see things the same way, and therefore cooperate.

It's ass fucking backwards, really. It's washing up to take a bath..."

To add to that further, here:

Hierarchies exist to preserve themselves, to preserve the advantages that members of them accrue by having people do their bidding at the same time as those who serve pay (a wage allows the wage payer to give less than the worker produced) for the "protections" offered by the centralizing authority.

Since hierarchies overlap and compete for control of populations, they need the ability to brand their adherents - usually employing cultural, ethnic, religious, national or ideological cues to identify those whom they claim and those whom other hierarchies cannot automatically pirate.

In the case of economically competitive firms, the competition for skilled staffers reduces the need for branding. Remuneration and naked advantage provide ample motivation, and the operation of firms does not (at this time) depend upon the capture of dedicated laborers, especially when seeking skilled or accredited workers who have already demonstrated at least the appearance of fealty to the economic order by obtaining license to participate in at at a more profitable level.

The corporate hierarchy can dispense with the cruder sorts of fealty and identifying marks, because it divides more plainly the social population in which it operates, placing the hierarchy more openly in control of the resources of the group, and removing in many cases the ability of the subsidiary parts to change that hierarchy by franchise or active participation.

National, tribal, ethnic and religious hierarchies generally control a larger population group than the corporate power structures which inhabit their social space - and serve a different, though declining, purpose. The older state, tribal and religious hierarchies still rather obviously exist - but they no longer dominate the means of exchange and resource extraction, as they did for the better part of five or so thousand years. Instead, they now exist to reduce threats to those corporate and economic hierarchies which directly control access to labor and capital, and to police the consuming and laboring populations which remain subject to them.

In all cases, though - hierarchies exist to preserve themselves, with differing rates of success and failure.

Ideological advocates of state or social centralization seemingly fail to understand this, the purpose of power. Instead, they see it as a means to an end - instead of the end itself.

Power serves itself. It has no other purpose. Any power which does not maintain and employ its control over the population it claims, loses it. Any power or authority constituted for any other reason either evolves into a self-preserving hierarchy, or degrades into a weak and fractured stasis, one which often invites the intervention of outside, more powerful competitors who have the means to assert control with violence or the threat of it, and maintain the control of resources and the supply of protection necessary to prevent uprising, or to punish and quash it.

Once more around again: A centralizing authority exists to maintain the resources, loyalty and armed staffers which constitute its power.

Its purpose? To provide membership in a hierarchy of power. And any hierarchy or power which fails to do so ceases to exist as one.

Oct 19, 2010

So Modern, This Bright Morning America

Just overheard at a Hannaford's, 7:05 AM, whilst shopping for cheap coffee and tonight's dinner:

Fat Old Man, with a Navy Cap: "...Ayotte. She still knows how to handle the niggers."

Skinny Old Man, bald, no hat: [chuckles] Sure does.

I assume this refers to Ayotte's successful capital murder prosecution of Michael Addison (a black man) for the murder of Officer Michael Briggs (not a black man). If not, it's even more awesome for its embodiment of The Compleat Suck™.

Oct 15, 2010

The Law in the Box

Imagine a box:

Or a safe. Or a treasure chest. Whatever.

You do not have the combination or key to open it. You do not have the knowledge, contacts or skill to blow it up, or take it apart.

This box stays closed.

Inside the box, printed on a sheaf of paper, lined or unlined, embossed or unadorned according to your taste, you will find a commandment. A law. Well, you'd find it if you could open the box. Which you cannot.

This law may compel you to do something. It may forbid you from one or many behaviors. It may have fancy scroll work, and an excess of filigree serifs, fit for the court of a dandy prince, attendant at Versailles. It may instead possess the stark simplicity of a Calvinist injunction against dancing, written without flourish or the slightest indication that the author has ever known pleasure, to say nothing of joy.

It doesn't matter.

Because you cannot read the law. You do not know what its authors want. Hidden away in the box, the text illuminated by naught, and nothing, the law remains itself unknown.

So, trapped in this condition of perfect obscurity, what does the law actually do?

I submit: nothing.

The law has no power. Isolated in this box, unread - the law means nothing. It has no value unless human eyes read it.

And much, much more significantly - until human labor enforces it.

The law - any law, all laws - demonstrates the persistence of human belief in magic. Instead of seeing the labor, the belief, the hierarchies of control which actually constitute power and social relations, or the resources consumed and bargained in order to build up power - we see the law. The law obscures; words to mystify actions. As the cop's uniform covers his possession of weapons and the sanction of violence, or the priest's vestments hide his mastery of anxiety, fear and terror in the face of death and suffering- the law gives the wielder of it a mastery of misdirection. Like all practitioners of  magic, those who use the law use words to lie, to deceive, to confuse and obfuscate. They hold the law as a misdirection...

A man beats his wife. He slaps her upside the head, and terrorizes her into submission. Let's assume that the law permits his reprehensible conduct. By the fictions of grammar, his power over her receives the sanction of an actual belief in magic. He violates her very person, and words written down dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of miles away grant him the sanction of a word sorcery which allows him to do it again. Or simply to get away with it.

The law itself does nothing. It has no power. If we put it into a box and lose the key, no one can read it, to believe it, to use it as magic. But, as magic, it directs attention away from behavior, labor and action.

Believing it, those who might otherwise intervene on her behalf yield away their autonomy and self-direction.

Because even as fiction, even as word magic, even as an artifice imposed only on memory - it misdirects towards a very material reality. Power. By believing the law, by taking it out from the sealed box of ignorance and shining on to it the light of belief, a person or persons yield autonomy and choice to those who have and claim the power to enforce it...

Assume again - a man beats his wife, viciously or with the practiced hand of a calmly confidant perpetrator. This time the law forbids it. Nothing else has changed. Only now, his neighbors know that commands printed on a piece of paper authorize their effort. Now, believing the law, doing word magic in their heads, his neighbors intervene. They, with a firm faith in the sanction of words, give their labor; they restrain him, holding him until the uniforms arrive.

No other thing differs, but this magic done in the head.

This then, the law: the use of memory, often by repetition or visible enforcement, to program a person or people to believe that without sanction, or under the geas of  a compulsion, the capacity to act without permission does not exist, unless previously permitted.

Our work, as enemies of the law, and the power it conceals?

To produce and distribute as many boxes*, and types of boxes, in which to stash and hide away the words and magic of the law. And to disrupt, degrade or otherwise obstruct the repetition and enforcement of it, by any and all means necessary.

To encourage doubt in the efficacy of its enforcement by the intelligent, devious, sly, clever, mocking, irreverent, indirect and underhanded undermining of faith in the magic of words, as law, or the magic of sanction, as uniform, badge, title, accolade, position, rank or office.

Otherwise, we yield - and by doing so remove our labor from the factors the ruling factions must calculate and consider, giving them respite and reprieve when the deserve only opposition and disobedience...

* - so many options...

Added in edit and with all credit to dbzer0, because it seems relevant:


Oct 14, 2010

November Third Cassandra Moment

November 3, 2010. Republican proto-fascists, using truckloads of corporate cash, a corporate press which frames every issue as an irreconcilable either/or, and old timey Whitey fear of brown people getting marginally less mindfuckingly poor, show mild to modest gains in the rubber stamp mill on the Potomac, promising almost no change to the operation of the war machine and the domestic impoverishment racket, which the Democrats did not change either:

John Cole: Fucking hippies. I love puppies.

John Cole cultists: Fucking traitor leftists did it! (sounds of hippie punching, yelps of incoherent rage, squeals of thuggish delight) Fucking Vichy Jane Hamsher and her hordes of commie fags with their magic socialist powers, scaring away the Decent Centerists!

Ezra Klein: Well, see, the differential modus of the right framing vectoral pectoralis indicates that the center-left Presidency of Obama, now unencumbered by center-right to right-economic backbench obstructionism...

Digby: Apocalypse! Yesterday! Give Alan Grayson money!

Shakescult: Trigger warning! Republican Jesus will now rape to death any chance that Hillary Clinton will make more money than...

Yggles: In Finland, the Finns call themselves Suomi. Also, cats are felines. And dolphins live in the water. I like crayons.

Glenn Beck: (scribbling on chalk board, mumbling, whining, sputtering): ...

Sean Hannity: You did this, you totally completely astroturfed, powerless idiot rubes who think I'm one of you despite the fact that I make millions a year lying to you whilst playing to your racist fantasies and fat fingered prejudices, as I  chum it up with the likes of Giuliani and other revolving door millionaires who will never have to suffer the way you suffer every day because you wouldn't know your own interests from your assholes but you will know even greater pain after you shred the last tatters of your vanishing decency and embrace full and open fascism which I will gladly let you believe is democracy Great Americans. Heroes. Policemen. Soldiers. Lions, tigers and bears, oh my!

Rush Limbaugh: (in his best Mr. Krabs impression, to himself) Money. Vaginas. Me. S'all good. There's always a black person to blame, somewhere. I wonder if Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton want to make some money? I think I'll give Al a call...

John Stewart: Phew. It just got so much easier to be a gatekeeper...

Republican Tea Party Chorus: We still hate Teh Gays and Teh Mooslims! White Christians who make $250k a year are the real persecuted true Americans! Prayer in schools will fix everything! Oh, and less taxes plus balanced budgets plus increased war spending couldn't possibly turn out differently from our fantasies of a Restored Most Christian Republic...

Arianna Huffington: Thank God and my gay ex-husband's money. Because I was running out of reasons to plaster Christina Hendrick's face all over my fashion website. Now, back to pretending that Democrats aren't corporatists too...

Oct 12, 2010

The Cop

In my experience, the cop does not conform to the uniform, so much as the uniform covers a range of types. The cop does not become a cop by virtue of the uniform. The cop preexists first as a type drawn to the power of the uniform, and the gun. Training completes the masking of the type, in so much as it encourages the conformity to power - but it does not erase the type. The uniform provides cover for the urges and needs of the person wearing it - cover as a sanction, but concealment also by sanctification.

So, some of those types which I have found across diverse communities:

1. Jagermeisters. People who, by temperament and the vagaries of conditioning, prefer to hunt others. They don the uniform because it gives them sanction to hunt, to pursue, to capture. The law does not matter as an end. It provides the means, the vehicle through which the drive to pursue, to solve, to master the puzzle of an opponent can, at least for the duration of the chase, find expression.

2. Goons. Armed staffers for the prevailing order, especially men who define themselves by who or what they serve. They obey because they cannot self-direct, not in those areas of experience which, in retrospect, reveal themselves as important. The example of this type must find a boss for whom he can act the instrument. He lacks the capacity for autonomy. Commonly enough, found following the other types and assuming their habits and traits while under direct influence.

3. Paladins, true believers and savior types who demand obedience of others in the pursuit of order, perfection, moral sanitation or some other cause which they must serve, the failure of which unbinds their own moral strait jackets, and their possession of an imposed self-control. Unlike a goon, a paladin can self direct. And while a goon will bend or break custom and law, in the service of his masters, the paladin will do so because nothing trumps the cause.

4. Sadists. Those who enjoy wronging others, but who know that they do wrong. Clever sadists will wear the glamor, if you will, of law enforcement, in order to maintain access to the power which gives them the means by which they fulfill their desires. A creature of desire, foremost. But, of a particularly durable sort, since the successful wearing of the uniform suggests an ability to delay satisfaction, as well as provide continuing service to the hierarchy, the better to keep access to victims.  As much a junkie as a smack addict, but with the sanction of the law and power.

5. Sociopaths. Actual ones, not the bogeymen of Diggles' nightmare future of Republican ascendancy. Distinct from sadists, in that they do not have the moral capacity to understand that they wrong others.

6. Timeservers. Clock watchers. Bureaucrats. Guys who couldn't get on the Fire Department's lists, or who moved from the armed services to police work because the transition between services itself has institutional support. Dangerous, in that this type will do what it takes to keep his position, and his ease or comfort, so long as the action itself cannot foreseeably threaten the same.

Again, in my experience, the embodiment of a type does not exclude the traits of another. And while I think it rare to find a clock watching sociopath, and downright unlikely to encounter a goon paladin, I've often encountered paladin sadists, or sociopath jagermeisters.

Understanding these types - not as absolutes, but as suggestions of enduring traits - perhaps might allow one to understand how police power functions, at the level of its impact, where the police interact with the population. It could also provide a lens through which those so inclined might see and develop the methods that best counter or negate police power, by allowing them to tailor their actions to the persons and types concealed by the uniform.


On a related note - thinking of cops as persons with certain common characteristics, modeled by type, opens up for me at least a way to differentiate the function of police power from the person enforcing it. Imagining a prospective future without law or governments, for a moment, I find it inconceivable that people will magically stop murdering, pilfering, raping and otherwise doing their worst to each other.

I cannot separate temperament and conduct. It seems premature, at best, to suggest that equity will erase offenses against persons. I see no evidence for any belief or set of beliefs which assumes that human cruelty operates only as a function of human inequity. Or that human cruelty does not manifest as human social structure. In other words, I think that human cruelty precedes human society. Inequity develops from cruelty. Cruel beliefs and harmful social arrangements may encourage the success of those types suited to the conditions of a violent or cruel society, but cruelty itself can exist without any complex or hierarchical social arrangements.

Assuming the validity of this assertion, provisionally, I can speculate on the retention of police functions even in a society without the sanction of law. If persons have an intrinsic capacity for cruelty, simply as persons, then people will harm each other, regardless of the justice, fairness or equity of social arrangements.* In this case, I accept as credible the organized or competitive provision of those services which purport to remedy harm done, to enact vengeance, to restore property and to incapacitate those inclined to harm others, however temporarily. Which means, I think, that the same types enumerated above will still have the outlet for their needs, urges and desires - drawn as predictably then to those roles which allow them to fulfill their desires, as now.

* - A society where ostracism or expulsion of the willfully violent or cruel might also encourage agonistic sport and contest as a means of mitigating or sublimating the human tendency to harm others.

Oct 11, 2010

"The Simpsons" Grows A Beard

Growing the beard.

(relevant portion: 0 - 1:38 mins)

Obviously, the producers of "The Simpsons" don't employ pandas and unicorns, but if ever there was a case of the lie that told a truth...

Ass Clown Does Nazi Dress Up, Liberals Miss Point Entirely


Comments inspire ribald guffaws. SS dress up, bad. Obama's robot terrorism, meh.

Mayhap actual commentary later...

Oct 9, 2010


Oct 8, 2010

Idiot Does Propaganda, Fails On Account Of Idiocy

Yggles wanders the Holy Land.

Yggles takes himself some pictures.

Yggles writes:

"A couple of shots of Route 443 through the West Bank that I mentioned yesterday. First here’s the Israeli checkpoint semi-blocking the exit/entrance that would lead from a Palestinian village onto the highway:"

Yggles tries really hard to soft-pedal, but consumed by the stupidity of his own Ygglehood, fails.

Note to Yggles:

The check point blocks the egress. Guard towers and gun points, wired fences and barbed wire, clown. Soldiers. Military vehicles. It doesn't "semi-block it." I know, I know - you've got a mission. But, come on now, maroon. Those Palestinians so contained cannot semi-exit. They cannot semi-stay-imprisoned. When it comes to open air prisons with captives on one side of a fence, and captors on the other, you really do have to boil it down "in" or "out."

 And, clown, the Israelis have fully blocked the Palestinians in.

Second note to Yggles:

The subjunctive fails, you unclever weasel hack. The Palestinians imprisoned by their Israeli occupiers live in a real village, that does lead to the Israeli highway.

Third note to Yggles:

Fuck you.

Oct 7, 2010

How To Fight

Sometimes a cluster of migraines, visual artifacts and light sensitivity comes to good end. Boredom. Attempting to distract myself from the inescapable pain of my own head, I finally just got bored. Tore through six or ten books, reading through the fractal patterns. Started reading old books. Stopped.

Started thinking.

Especially about the last two replies to this.

In brief, I see no reason to worry depictions of rape emanating from the idiot screen. The palimpsest of television serves a rather singular purpose - to get you to consume shit you'd otherwise ignore, whether ideas or so-called goods and services.

Two commentators disagreed.

The first:

"Well, call me weird or whatever, but I managed to get mad at the nonstop product placement in that show and the light-hearted yukking about spousal rape."

And the second: 

"[Redacted], you are so weird. How can you think that all that shit on tv AND rape jokes are wrong? Rape is such a trifling issue. Especially when it's presented on popular tv shows as a trifling issue, isn't that the most obvious proof?"

Working backwards, I never treat rape as a trifling issue. I know in my own flesh the worm eaten corruption of it. But, I just cannot bring myself to get mad at simulations.

So, the what-what:

You do not fight the Spectacle because you cannot fight the Spectacle. Any conflict with Spectacular depiction becomes Spectacle. Our wayward conservative friends may never figure this out, since nearly all of their "struggles" aim them against, or for, fictional depictions, against or for manufactured simulations - a communist capitalist President, a Gay Agenda, a socialist fifth column somehow destroying the most mercenary political construct in the history of the human race, an oppressed dominant white Christian majority, a small government that gets all up in the uterus, a three front occupation army run by a balanced budget government, a conservative Republican Martin Luther King, Jr, Christian public education.

I cannot even begin to drum up the snark and disdain needed to aim my arrow at the earnest, weeping gliberals...

The Spectacle consummates. Its factions do not produce a coherent, cohesive film of reality. They show what suits them, often only for a season. They bring to completion some product or campaign. They run it through an artificial life cycle, controlling the whole length and breadth of it. Life lacks that quality; the actual living of it fails to conform to tropes and narrative arcs.

Those who produce their segments of Spectacular society do so for their own interests, and towards their own ends, sometimes in conflict with others. Fiction with an end. They consummate their needs, and the needs of their subscribers, in these simulations. Simulations which, if successful, obfuscate or misdirect the experience of the observer. They consummate reality by replacing it with a manufactured copy, or copies.

You do not fight this and win, because any struggle within the confines of the Spectacle, for it to identify the Spectacular form(s) as opponent, and opposable, must adhere to its rules. It must allow itself depiction. It must simulate a struggle, in order to engage the Spectacular fictions.

It becomes, in short, spectacular. Becomes one more fiction.

This cannot damage the Spectacle, or the producers of it.

If you want to actually fight the Spectacle, go unseen. Have no purpose. Offer no critique. And fight the producers and factions directly, in an arena they cannot define with cameras, lights and action...

Oct 4, 2010

Because my head still hurts too much too think

Mildly entertained. Does cover the mercenary aspects of the conservative paranoia machine...