Friday, October 30, 2009

As'ad AbuKhalil
Anna (who appeared with Mustafa Barghuti on the Daily Show) circulated a message about her appearance. I am citing from it (with her permission): "Last night Dr. Barghouti and I were on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart talking about Palestine. The show was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel. During the taping the show had it's only heckler in 11 years.The entire staff were very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired..Many of you who watched the show on TV noticed that everything of real substance that I said was edited out. The major issues cut out were (1) the US role in aiding Israel, (2) the lack of adequate coverage in mainstream US media, and (3) the Palestinian-led movement for Boycott / Divestment / Sanctions (BDS) to nonviolently pressure Israel to comply with international law."
M.J. Rosenberg has been trapped into linking to a friend of AbuKhalil and Ali Abunimah and a supporter of the boycott.
More confusion, logical and moral, from Bernard Avishai. One of the commenters suspects Rosenberg of being an anti-Zionist.
Hemlines go up. Hemlines go down, [see Wednesday]
O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Give me in due time, I beseech you, a little tobacco-shop,
With the little bright boxes
piled up neatly upon the shelves
And the loose fragment cavendish
and the shag,
And the bright Virginia
loose under the bright glass cases,
And a pair of scales
not too greasy,
And the whores dropping in for a word or two in passing,
For a flip word, and to tidy their hair a bit.

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Lend me a little tobacco-shop,
or install me in any profession
Save this damn'd profession of writing,
where one needs one's brains all the time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not new but nicely done. Balkin
First, although it's clear that Justice Scalia would not have upheld segregated schools in the states, it's not clear that he would be able to strike down segregated schools in the District of Columbia. In particular, we don't have a good sense of what Justice Scalia thinks of the originalist case for Bolling v. Sharpe, which held that the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, ratified in 1791, prohibits racial classifications by the federal government. Consider this: in 1791 black people were held in slavery. It's hard to argue that this clause, interpreted according to the expectations of the late eighteenth century generation that framed it, prevents the federal government from engaging in racial discrimination. Moreover, Justice Scalia has long been an opponent of reading the Due Process Clause to have substantive content. If so, why isn't Bolling v. Sharpe an impermissible form of substantive due process, as impermissible as, say, Roe v. Wade? If Justice Scalia believes that Bolling is correct, it can't be because of his originalist views. Rather, it is, as he would say, a case where courts just made new rights up.

And, of course, if Bolling falls, then so too must the Adarand decision, which held federal affirmative action programs to a standard of strict scrutiny. Indeed, Justice Scalia's view, stated in a concurrence to Adarand itself, is even stronger-- he believes that race conscious federal affirmative action is almost always unconstitutional; as he puts it, "government can never have a "compelling interest" in discriminating on the basis of race in order to "make up" for past racial discrimination in the opposite direction." But if so, what is the basis for that conclusion, given his views on original meaning originalism? It certainly is not consistent with the attitudes or actions of the framers in the Reconstruction Congress that enacted the Fourteenth Amendment. They passed various educational and welfare statutes designed for the benefit of blacks, including free blacks who had not been held in slavery.
I'm reading Erasmus and Luther. Luther as Salafist, searching for truth in dogma. Scalia is more the anti-reformist Churchman, inflexibly defending hypocrisy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

John Brown and reaction again. Last reference here

Rothstein's discussion is shallow as always; but it's important to note that we're seeing a right-wing Zionist forced to the position of the liberal Zionist -wringing his hands over terrorism rather than shaking his fist- as liberal Zionists are being forced to the left, to positions once held only by anti-Zionists. This discussion still mostly among and for an audience of Jews, but Palestinians are beginning to make appearances where they would not have been seen even two years ago.

Hemlines creep up, hemlines creep down, the normative changes with changes in experience. Ideas don't lead, they follow.
People are stupid, but there's nothing else to do.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In the long run, it will probably be better for the Administration and future Administrations not to say that Fox and its successors are not "legitimate" journalists, but that they are not actually objective journalists; instead they are members of a new party or partisan press. That model of the press may be legitimate in the twenty-first century, but politicians have no obligation to treat it as they treated an earlier model of journalism.
Jack Balkin should know better than to imply that there's such a thing as objective journalism. Still, his response is the best so far.

More Max Roach; younger and working harder. Something a little mannered -affected- creeps into the later performances. But I don't remember that so much seeing him in the years before he died.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The first time I saw him play this it he'd simplified the central motif down to its basic elements. Played slowly, it was the history of the drum: heartbeat, march, swing; the human, the martial, and the dance. I think I began to cry before I knew the reason.
The great orator of the trap set.

Mop Mop

Purdie Shuffle

Friday, October 23, 2009

Michael Slackman and the NY Times vs the facts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"America was once their country. They sense they are losing it. And they are right."
Pat Buchanan wants for America what Joshua Marshall, M.J. Rosenberg, and every other liberal Zionist wants for Israel.
How to explain the disconnect? I don't know.
---
Actually, it's obvious: the reactionary is in relation to the normative, not the objective.
See as always, John Brown.

The leaders of the American revolution were reactionaries in the minds of the British, because to the British revolt was reaction. In fact it was not, but it could have been; that's always the danger. For a revolt to succeed it has to replace one set of normative relations with another. Revolution is never normative and an esthetic of permanent revolution is opposed to the very idea of normative stability. Revolt as reaction becomes self-destruction.

Israel wants to see Palestinian revolt as reaction, and Israeli policy over decades has been designed to that end: support for Hamas against Fatah, the strategic indifference to Yassin, and the expulsion of the pacifist Mubarak Awad. But Hamas is revolt and not reaction, whereas Beck and Buchanan are reaction, simply because they have nothing else to argue from but that.

Zionists, in America at least, could lead normal lives for the same reason Europeans early in the age of Empire could do so: any normative order operates by inclusion and exclusion, and what can be excluded fully can be rendered morally irrelevant. But as outside things move close, becoming neither normative nor fully excluded, when proximity becomes not yet acknowledged intimacy, the mind begins to lose its balance. Sensing the artificiality of moral order and the objective reality of crime, the normative imagination, unwilling to change, twists into perversity. Exclusion and indifference becomes half-conscious rage.

Technocrats are not good diagnosticians.
---
addendum: the anxiety of the perverse.



process or product.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It does seem to me that all people of goodwill would welcome the news that it had become possible to proceed otherwise [i.e. in ways that tapped into our nobler, rather than our more selfish, motives] perhaps, for example, because some economists had invented clever ways of harnessing and organizing our capacity for generosity toward others.
Liberal idealists try to institutionalize concern without understanding that institutionalized concern manifests only as pity. There is no care without caring: empathy is a practice not a function. Conservatives understand this and the self-serving hypocrisy of idealist abstraction and their cynical response is institutionalized contempt.

Concern is intimate empiricism: it can be fostered by institutions but can not be institutionalized. I've said this before but the above quote from Cohen, and the discussion around it, are a perfect example of liberal indulgence that will always end in righteous sentimentalism and self-pity. The discussion of hate crimes law and then Freakonomics and my jottings in response brought me back to that quote.

In reference to Levitt and Dubner: the proper response to their contrarian idealism is not game theory or falling back on "conventional wisdom"

Friday, October 16, 2009

And again. [continuing from here]
Naturalized epistemology is mostly a matter of esthetics, analogizing science: a brittle esthetics of names and ideas rather than one constituted of and concerning the ambiguities of naming. So now these idiots are defending their rationalist anti-humanism as humanism and instrumentalism for instrumentalism's sake. Technocracy as valid culture.
Most liberals have no understanding of the rule of law. Liberals are optimists, and the rule of law is founded in pessimism. The argument for the rule of law is fundamentally conservative.
I've always known but its depressing to have to argue it again and again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009




Picasso, Mandolin and Guitar, 1924. Oil with sand on canvas, 55 3/8 x 78 7/8 inches. Guggenheim Museum, NY.

The painting has always annoyed me; predicting the future a la Jules Verne, but instead of a submarine we get a surprisingly accurate portrait of the artist as an old man, 40 years ahead. And I've never been a fan of Arcimboldo.
It was part of the template for cartoons from the late 50's and early 60's, Warner Bros. and Disney -cubist and surrealist design motifs- through many others, including Dufy and Ludwig Bemelmans. Look at the window and the door on the right: the flat shadows and light. In the flatness of a reproduction it's easier to see. None of this makes it any better, any less contrived or over-determined.
Actually I've always hated this fucking painting. It's Pop without irony.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Liz Cheney states the obvious, which the democratic leadership and many following cannot.
"I think what the committee believes is they'd like to live in a world in which America is not dominant. And I think if you look at the language of the citation, you can see that they talk about, you know, President Obama ruling in a way that makes sense to the majority of the people of the world," said Cheney. "You know, Americans don't elect a president to do that. We elect a president to defend our national interests. And so I think that, you know, they may believe that President Obama also doesn't agree with American dominance, and they may have been trying to affirm that belief with the prize. I think, unfortunately, they may be right, and I think it's a concern."
Like liberal Zionists finally forced to face their contradictions, American liberal internationalists are being asked to become what they pretend.
---
The Republicans were right on hate crimes legislation. The ACLU caved on this issue years ago, and it was and is disgusting.
No mention from Blair that there have been almost no rockets coming out of Gaza since Hamas announced the currently-operant ceasefire there on January 18-- but despite that lack of rocketings, the Israeli siege is harsher even than it was prior to last winter's war.

No mention of the roughly 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners and detainees being held in Israeli jails. They include more than two dozen elected Palestinian MPs and thousands of others elected for purely political reasons. Shalit, by contrast, was on active military service and thereby knowingly ran the risk of being taken as a prisoner-of-war.

What a dishonest schmuck Blair is. (Nothing new there.)
smiled at the last, considering who it is.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Visser
New DNO Revelations: While He Was Influencing the Shape of the Iraqi Constitution, Peter Galbraith Held Stakes in an Oilfield in Dahuk.

HC, earlier in the week on Galbraith and Afghanistan

Friday, October 09, 2009

A good soldier in the army of film.
8. Related, but more practical subjects, will be the art of lockpicking. Traveling on foot. The exhilaration of being shot at unsuccessfully. The athletic side of filmmaking. The creation of your own shooting permits. The neutralization of bureaucracy. Guerrilla tactics. Self reliance.

9. Censorship will be enforced. There will be no talk of shamans, of yoga classes, nutritional values, herbal teas, discovering your Boundaries, and Inner Growth.

10. Related, but more reflective, will be a reading list: if possible, read Virgil's "Georgics", read "Hemingway's "The short happy life of Francis Macomber", The Poetic Edda, translated by Lee M. Hollander (in particular the Prophecy of the Seeress), Bernal Diaz del Castillo "True History of the Conquest of New Spain".

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Read the comments

Sent by a friend. Not sure about the circumstances but it's pretty good either way.
[It's Venturi]
update: Archinect
On Goldstone, Fatah, Dahlan et al. read AA. Even when he's wrong he's smart. Unlike Josh Marshall.
Saree Makdisi
"Reports have been circulating in the Arab, Israeli and European media that Abbas and his associates may have been prompted to take this extraordinary action because Israel had been threatening, had they continued with their support of the UN resolution, to withhold its release of a share of the radio spectrum that would have allowed the creation of a new Palestinian mobile phone company, Wataniyya: the product of a joint venture between Qatari investors and the Palestine Investment Fund, to which Abbas himself and one of his wealthy sons have personal connections. Palestinians have suggested that simple corruption and cronyism may have motivated Abbas’s decision. The PA and the circle of officials attached to it have certainly had their share of corruption charges—most shockingly, perhaps, when Ahmed Qureia, then the so-called Prime Minister of the PA (again, “so-called” because Prime Ministers usually have countries to govern, and the PA is anything but a country), was accused of selling cement to the Israelis to build their wall in the West Bank. The corruption of the PA and the narrow circle of Fateh party officials running it, clinging to it, and benefiting from it, is one of the main reasons why Fateh was swept from office in the 2006 Palestinian elections in favor of Hamas: most people then were voting against Fateh and its corruption and general hopelessness, rather than for Hamas (which had, and has, little to offer other than simply not being Fateh: a credit which goes only so far). It’s possible, of course, that corruption and cronyism were not the motivating factors for Abbas’s decision to withdraw Palestinian support for the Goldstone report...

These, then, are the possibilities before us: not only does the PA not represent the Palestinian people, it is also, on top of that, either corrupt to an almost unimaginable level; or it is profoundly incompetent and guilty of squandering the rights and hopes of a people that it is unentitled to claim to lead; or it is interested not in its people’s rights and hopes but rather in perpetuating its own status as the day-to-day caretaker of a permanent Israeli occupation—in which case it is no less collaborationist than the Vichy “government” of Nazi-occupied France in the 1940s. Corruption; incompetence; collaboration: ah, the agony of choice.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Nice about the Watteau exhibition since I've been there three times by now. Old people, and old couples, smiling and talking, sometimes too loudly (and the guards walk over). They see the romance and the sex, and understand and share the wistfulness.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

M.J. Rosenberg seconds Ali Abunimah [previous post] but in doing so links not to Abunimah or As'ad AbuKhalil but to the Jerry Haber [The Magnes Zionist.] Again and again you now see Zionist liberals being forced to choose between Zionism and liberalism, between dehumanizing the Palestinians absolutely and understanding them not as problem or idea but as fully human. Liberal Zionists never wanted to see themselves as racist, though objectively they were, but now they're being forced to face the contradictions. All sadly, happily or indifferently predictable.

update: Helena Cobban runs down the response: Palestinian society supports Goldstone, criticizes Abbas. The U.S. pressure was a big mistake.

Friday, October 02, 2009

EI: Abbas helps Israel bury its crimes
One would think, then, that the self-described representatives of the Palestinian people would not casually throw away this weapon. And yet, according to Abbas ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi, the Ramallah PA shelved its effort at the request of the Americans because "We don't want to create an obstacle for them."

This latest surrender comes less than two weeks after Abbas appeared at a summit in New York with US President Barack Obama and Netanyahu despite Obama abandoning his demand that Israel halt construction of Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Also under US pressure, the PA abandoned its pledge not to resume negotiations unless settlement-building stopped, and agreed to take part in US-mediated "peace talks" with Israel in Washington this week. Israel, meanwhile, announced plans for the largest ever West Bank settlement since 1967.

What makes this even more galling, is the real possibility that the PA is helping Israel wash its hands of the blood it spilled in Gaza for something as base as the financial gain of businessmen closely linked to Abbas. [link: The Independent]

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Vermeer v. Watteau at the Metropolitan




Very complex questions of preference. At the most abstract becoming questions almost or even of morality.


Also Robert Frank
Vermeer has always bothered me. I assumed he used a camera obscura but the work's famous "photographic" qualities are after all mechanical qualities, and his sensibility is manifest in a sort of estheticized mechanically produced affect. It's not the technique that's the problem. Photography is a technology, soft focus is a trick, producing a reflexive response. Vermeer is a great painter that's not the issue.