"...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

Dec 26, 2011

Law has no power

If laws were routinely passed, but no loot was set aside to enforce them, so that they were effectively nothing more than suggestions for conduct which the average resident could adhere to or ignore at leisure, we would have a far different understanding of law the currently we do.

What we have - and what has been our occidental tradition, harkening back all the way to the first glimmer of supposed civilization in Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, the Levant and polities of Hellas and Megale Hellas - is quite different from all that.

We have the passage of laws, statutes, codes and decrees - and the apportioning of weapons, wealth and armed staffers to enforce them. Our tradition of legislation comes with punishment, and the threat of punishment. We have gods who punish, and fat old men who refuse to disperse slave-made toys, as a punishment. We are threatened with discipline at every turn, and we are raised from toddler until retirement age, and beyond, to believe deeply and with an unshakable certainty that actions not only have human consequences, in the form of violence, imprisonment and the loss of status, but divine ones, in the form of self-destruction, bad luck, heavenly corrective scourges and everlasting damnation.

Our predecessors have produced variations of culture and credulity ranging from the fantastical to the nightmarishly bureaucratic. Our history records the numinous spirits of forest and riverside, a thousand divines in olympic contention, pantheons of bickering child-gods, and the current all-seeing monster who populates the brain spaces of most Muslims, Christians and Jews. We have had decades of doubt, and ages of faith. We can look back, as well as looking back allows, and scan the flowering of the Provence, and the explosion of regimental Prussian might, separated by less than a thousand miles, and fewer than a thousand years.

And despite the seeming limitlessness of our cultural variations, and individual perspectives, we have as a constant the passage of laws, and the enforcement of laws.

We have learned to impose, and to be imposed upon.

And it's all a set of fictions.

Really, it is.

The law is powerless. It does nothing. It achieves no end. It accomplishes no outcome. No law on the planet binds you, because no law can bind you.

Look instead to the weapon in the hand of the enforcer. To the threat of the slap from mommy, or the loss of her love. Watch the teacher's ostracism of the troubled child, how a little boy is slowly set aside from his peers, is isolated, is twisted and warped into a young man who has turned self-defense into a protective cruelty. See the priest poisoning the minds of the young, encouraging the madness of faith in the pettiest, most vicious, most hateful god built up into a sky daddy monster yet. Know that the good reverend, the pillar of the community, encourages mass delusion and a lifetime of self-betrayal, every time he casts aspersions at the harlot, condemns the godlessness of the teenager who flushes at his first boy-crush, or rails at the sinfulness of a nation which dares to allow women the freedom of their own bodies. Hear them teach about hell, and a concentration camp in the afterlife from which there is no escape.

See the cop with his gun, the soldier at attention, the jailer with his grin and the judge who sits above the mere humans arranged in rows for his judicial enjoyment.

It's punishment.

It's punishment.

The thing which which twists us up, which teaches us to police ourselves and neighbors, which faces us with a daily set of choices, all of them bad, and most of them worse, is punishment.

It's our lives - our labor, the wealth we create, the sacrifices we must endure - turned against us. That's what punishment is - the capture of the output of our work, its conversion into weapons and wages for armed staffers, and the threat and use of those weapons, against us.

The law achieves nothing. The outcome of its enforcement is everything.

We don't need to fear the law.

And its more than possible to lose the fear of enforcement. There's an emotional terminus to obedience. You can arrive, there. We can.

Our earthly masters have a lot of weapons, and a lot of leeway to use them. That I grant.

But we know where they build those weapons. And we know where they train their users. We know how they feed themselves, and we know where they sleep. We know - and we can know - how they get from home to work. We know where they work. We have every capacity needed to study them further. We are makers and watchers, because that's how we've been trained. We are observant of power, because that's how they shaped us. Every aspect of their lives is discoverable, and their behaviors are discernible. We already have the tools necessary to ending their reign of power and punishment.

And there just aren't all that many of them.

But there sure are fucking multitudes of us.

Dec 21, 2011

Natural Defecation Authorization

According to a number of blogs and websites, ranging from the Bircher to the Beech Street Choir Boys, we're all supposed to be like wicked upset about an acronym.

Specifically, the NDAA, which from what I gather is this totally nefarious parcel of freedom destroying paragraphs, subsections, clauses and dispositions which wipe away our ability to resist the police and shit. Oh, and it prevents people from doing dissenty stuff that Uncle Sam might treat as terrorism, or the corporate press will escalate into a story about public safety and the public good, about keeping the children protected from the monsters under their beds.

Not for nothing, the people really upset and pissed about this de jure restatement of de facto policy are white. And law abiding.

I wonder if these white people are like all in the doldrums because now there's some legislation which allows the cops and the Feds to get away with acting as if white people were black, hispanic or "illegal", or some shit like that.

Because the last time I checked, it's already fairly routine for people to be rounded up, held on trumped up charges, and shuffled into indefinite detention (or sent to the death house) with little or no evidence, or on executive say-so. Because they're not-white. Because they make unapproved social choices. Because they don't toe the line. Because society doesn't prize their obedience enough to spend loot teaching them how to police themselves.

And I'm frankly as tired of white people complaining about suddenly becoming the nigger and the Other as I am of Canadians who get themselves into a miff-midden because Americans are shitty voters who are at least smart enough to realize that voting doesn't make a difference.

People eschew voting for the same reason that people steal: it makes sense, if you can get away with it. Too many people vote, and not enough shit gets stolen, if you ask me. Not that you're asking. But whatever.

Laws aren't real, like money isn't absolute value. Laws are as unreal, and unrealistic, as paper currency. If you take a handful of dollars and wipe your ass with them, you've got some pretty - and pretty well used - toilet paper. The same applies to laws. Or vote ballots.

Only thing which gives them power is faith. What allows the law any power over your conduct is confidence. Sometimes that faith serves your survival needs, especially when there's a policeman two feet away, brandishing his aerosolized poison in a can, his right hand clutching at a tool designed to punch fatal holes into human bodies.

Sometimes it just doesn't, as in often. Because there just aren't enough cops in the world, or laws on the books, to tame an unruly people.

I'm not saying you're obligated to go out your front door and get all unruly. Your thing is your thing, and it isn't easy to jettison a life time of obedience training, socialization and faith in civilization. Most of what makes an individual feel individuated is in fact quite commonplace: mammalian needs, cultural conditioning, dependence upon arbitrary rule-making parents, abuse and desires thwarted.  We are, I imagine, less individuated than we tell ourselves.

Think about it: what makes the rich contemptible is their freedom from the commonplace, isn't it? Not that they've managed to inherit or steal lives which allow them to satisfy their desires and escape the punishments which discipline lesser mortals - but that to keep their lifestyles, the rest of us have to be disciplined into wage-slaves, to be bound up in restrictive norms, imprisoned in self-betrayals and programmed deficiencies, shackled with bad morals and bad consciences and otherwise made into instruments and tool-people. We get squandered, so they can squander. We're interchangeable, and we were shaped that way.

I'm not talking mere metaphor, here. Go on, quit your job. Break the rules. Walk up to a cop and punch him in the face. Throw a bouquet of harmless flowers into your Senator's face. Get close enough to the President to call him names, and then curse at him.

You will be replaced. By someone who has the same basic pre-programmed moral and social template that each of us believes is special and unique. Sure, I've got a picture of my wife and kids on my moral cubicle, while you've got your calendar open to the photo of a beach in the Caribbean, or if you're more of a dork, to some fantasy rendition of a dragon slash muscle car slash airbrushed approximation of a supposedly desirable woman-as-toy.

We're replaceable. And we fucking know it. It's why people develop pathologies, pursue obsessions, get depressed, masturbate like zoo caged orangutans, fiddle with religion, aim a gun/bow/magic spell at a digital demon, gossip about the office "whore," discuss films like they're personal adventures, read novels, cultivate hobbies, yell at the kids as if their futures are important, and do all the things that replaceable people do to distract themselves from their fundamental instrumentality.

It's why, I think, we haven't killed the fucking rich pricks dead, yet. The laws certainly aren't keeping us in place. Because laws don't work like that. And there aren't enough cops or soldiers on the planet, to keep people obedient.

It's that we know, because we were trained to know, that we aren't really fully human. We are, morally, intellectually and emotionally, machined parts.

The NDAA wasn't written to provide a sea change to public policy. It doesn't really change anything, because even without its passage, you, I and most everyone else can already be taken into custody, processed through the system, and incarcerated until the end of our days. With little cost to our earthly masters. And on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Don't take my word on it. Go ask a black American. Or an "illegal" Mexican. Or the eighteen year old just busted for "distribution" because her tail light was out and she had enough herb in the car to get herself and a couple of her friends stoned for the night.

If you quit your job, you will be replaced, and the machine will operate without you. If you go to jail, someone else will take over your daily functions. If you go to jail for long enough, someone else will slot his or her self into your family or role, and one day "your" kids won't even be yours anymore.

The NDAA wasn't written for you. It isn't a threat to the average American's life. It's not a law to get upset about. It's like fretting a law requiring you to take a shit. Don't goddamned worry it.

Unless you're ready to make the leap from machine part, to monkey wrench, that is. And then, it ain't nothing at all. It's less than nothing. It has no power. That's the fucking beauty of the de-moralization of your head space. Once you become an actual threat to lawn order, the worst they can do is cage or kill you. The laws don't fix themselves in your head, anymore. They become scenery. They stop being plot. By the time you're free, you're already free. And the game begins in truth, then, doesn't it?...

Music, slowly

Dec 15, 2011

Getting Creamy

Robert Creamer, of the Huffington Post, has written a whopper. Let's just get right into it:

"Sometime in the next 15 days, the last American troops will leave Iraq  -- and the War that began almost nine years ago will finally come to an  end."

Of course, that really depends on what you mean by "war." If you intend a nineteenth or twentieth century definition, there was never a war in Iraq, for Obama to be able to end it. Congress declared no commencement of hostilities. The government of the nation of Iraq did not surrender. Instead, the US, along with Britain and a bunch of throwaway client countries, murdered off anywhere between one hundred thousand and one and half million Iraqis in order to establish a weak central government with a reduced power to develop the hydrocarbon and mineral resources under its nominal control. This was accomplished by isolating the somewhat more centralized predecessor state with ten years of crippling sanctions and a cease-fire violating regime of air terror, maliciously and unironically referred to as a "No Fly Zone." When its leader failed to yield, the country was invaded, occupied and bombed with millions upon millions of pounds of explosives. As of 2005, a mere two years into this occupation, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing had dropped more than 500,000 tons of ordnance alone, in Iraq. That was six years ago. From a single Marine aircraft wing.

Over that nearly decade long adventure, the US and Britain conducted untold numbers of checkpoint kills, dragnets and night raids, disappearing tens of thousands of Iraqis into a global gulag. Coalition forces twice destroyed the city of Fallujah, leveled portions of Baghdad, Mosul, Basra and other cities, dismantled or destroyed the water, educational, health and transportation infrastructures, covered the countryside and the cities in uranium dust from the use and detonation of "depleted uranium" munitions, forced more than a million Iraqis (one out of every twenty persons) to flee their homes, built a network of crusader fortresses, and secured for their governments SOFA and "Strategic Framework" agreements to make the most hardened imperialist proud, giving the US near carte blanche to conduct raids, air missions and anti-terror campaigns in and over Iraq. The US and Britain also leave behind, in Iraq, a privately managed army of mercenaries, contracted to the departments of State and Defense, the Ministry of Defense, and their putative client, the Iraqi central government.

This was not a war. This was a conquest. It's still a conquest. As in, ongoing.

If you're working within the neoconservative/neoliberal war powers framework, it's even simpler. "The War" is not ending in Iraq. It's just entering a new, privatized phase, one which still guarantees profits to defense contractors and munitions manufacturers, but which leaves the current and subsequent presidential administrations the leeway to pretend they care about the concerns and sovereignty of the Iraqi client state and the citizens it claims to represent.

"Today, President Obama addresses some of those returning troops at Fort  Bragg, North Carolina.  The big difference between those troops and many  others who have returned from the War in Iraq, is that none of them  will be deployed on yet another tour to Mosul or Kirkuk or Baghdad -- or  any of the other Iraqi cities that became so familiar to Americans over  the last decade."

This is demonstrably false. The Strategic Framework Agreement foisted upon the government of Iraq not only allows US based companies to colonize the Iraqi economy, but it grants explicit permission to the government of the United States to redeploy soldiers and personnel within Iraq, with the flimsiest of "security" pretexts. US armed forces will still occupy a number of bases constructed over the last ten years, positioning them as a forward projection force for any current or future conflicts in Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon or Afghanistan.

"The end of the War in Iraq is a major event in American  history, since in many ways, that War was the defining historic event  for an entire generation of Americans."

Which generation would that be? The one currently facing permanent structural disemployment, austerity and social triage? Or the one getting stoned, fucked up and pharmakon'd into oblivion in perhaps the only genuinely rational response to austerity, declining prospects and a governing generation self-obsessed enough to call their parents "the Greatest" and themselves the "end of history"?

"There are those who would minimize the importance of the final  withdrawal of our troops from Iraq by pointing to the unfinished  business of the War in Afghanistan, or the use of civilian contractors.   Those are important issues, but they should not diminish the  extraordinary significance of the fact that the Iraq War has come to an  end."

No, it has not. And how do you minimize the non-existent?

"Most importantly, Progressives -- and all of those who fought  for a decade to prevent and then to end the Iraq War -- should take a  moment to celebrate the fact that they have won a critical, historic  battle."

That's a nifty trick, there. A little clumsy, but neat all the same. You see, progressives should celebrate that fact that they not only failed to prevent "the War," but that pretending to end it symbolically is a "critical, historic" victory. That's some funny shit.

"There is a lot of cynicism in America -- a sense that it doesn't matter  what you do -- that ordinary people can't really have an impact on the  big decisions and big institutions of our society.  The end of the War  in Iraq shows that the cynics are wrong. "

You have to appreciate the pedestrian effort to define cynicism in puerile terms, as if Americans are somehow incapable of understanding the sentiment which is most fundamental to American politics, entertainment, education, war-making, marriage and child-rearing. And it doesn't stop there. Creamer actually proposes, one imagines with a straight face and his tongue kept between his palates, that the progressive failure to prevent or end a war is a refutation of cynicism itself, demonstrating that "ordinary people" factor into the decisions of our ruling class and its factions of elites. I don't even fucking know what to write about this, except that Creamer is a terrible propagandist, unless he's the subtlest ironic artist this side of Russell Brand's puckering starfish.

"What began in 2002 as an effort to avert the war in Iraq, grew to a  chorus of millions who changed the political landscape and who kept  fighting until all of our troops came home.  That movement elected a  president who promised to end the war -- a president who this week has  kept that promise."

Alright, Creamer. It's just not fun, or funny, anymore.  Not only has the political landscape remained a constant, despite economic flux and social disruption, but the very last movement with the potential to change that landscape with the anti-war one. Millions took to the streets, and Bush invaded Iraq anyway. Then, Americans chose Bush over Kerry. The war continued, got worse. Thousands of Iraqis died. Then tens of thousands of them. Bush, with Democratic approval, escalated US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then Americans voted for Obama, who was utterly silent as Israel murdered Palestinians in Gaza with impunity. Obama took office, and almost immediately committed to dumping tens of thousands more soldiers into Afghanistan, under the command of two of the most brutal generals in the last fifty years (McChrystal and Petraeus). He forced the Iraqis to accept a humiliating framework for future economic colonization, spread the drone war to Yemen, expanded it in Pakistan and Afghanistan, gave Israel cover to prepare for renewed attacks on Iran and Lebanon and reconfirmed funding to the military junta which replaced Mubarak. He has continued his predecessor's policy of funding and arming terrorists in Iran. And he carpet bombed Libya, while providing tactical support, funding and air superiority for a cabal of women-hating racists who gun-raped Qadaffi right before they gave concessions to England, France and US based companies which will follow a fire sale of Libya's mineral, transportation, water and petroleum infrastructure to European and American firms. This is the same Obama, we should remember, whose smouldering contempt for women and their self-possession is without modern parallel in a President. The same Obama, it's worth noting, who has endorsed harsh austerity measures to compliment his Administration's efforts to force Americans into even more restrictive client to patron relationships with insurance companies, auto manufacturers, banks, prison complexes and privatized educational rackets. He is completely dedicated to not only preserving the Drug War, but expanding it and the prison industry - and he has recently promised to refrain from vetoing legislation which will put the stamp of law on the de facto militarization of law enforcement and local government.

I mean, come the fuck on, Creamer.

Or, whatever. I'm going to scrounge up some booze and celebrate the fact that it only took me three years to find a job. Which starts...

...in February.

(You can read the rest, at AOLHuffington, if you want. It's progressive dogwhistling, blaming Republicans for policies that have full Democratic support, and lionizing Obama for "fixing" Bush's mistakes. I don't have the stomach for any more of it. If you are healthy, sane, self-possessed or smart, you won't have the stomach for it either.

My apologies for the republish. Hated the original title.

Anyway, thanks for you time. Or not, ya fucking fucks.)

Dec 12, 2011


When members of the middle class protest and tamely express dissatisfaction within the bounds of polite society, it’s munificently treated as discontent, for a while. When the poor and working poor do it*, it gets added to the FBI’s database of statistics about crime.

(vainly quoting my own self)

* - more practically and with a better attempts to results ratio, I might add...

Fukushima Diary

Fukushima Diary.

h/t "KZK" @ Ian Welsh

Dec 11, 2011

Legal Advice

Shakespeare was right about the lawyers.