Monday, February 28, 2011

The intellectuals discuss unions and other intellectuals, the latter to avoid any substantive discussion of the issues those other intellectuals are chatting about. [Whether or not the others are doing a good job is irrelevant, since their arguments aren't mentioned] It's the same with CT's own discussion of Wikileaks, which almost entirely ignored the information released. And of course Wikileaks was a trigger for the Tunisian revolution about which they're also saying nothing.

Unions do not represent individual freedom, they restrain it. The community takes precedence. Unions are conservative. Academic/technocratic liberals are forced to invent ways to get around that fact before making their (always weak) defense of unionization.

The working class can only protect itself standing united; as individuals they fall. The American culture of individualism makes this hard for people to accept.
From yesterday
In order to ensure that no holds were barred, Washington and some members of the Saudi royal family encouraged the parliamentary majority to antagonize Hizballah, escalate its anti-Syrian rhetoric, and forge ties with the Syrian opposition. .....The Bush administration began tacitly (and, according to some reports, actively) supporting Saudi funding of militant anti-Shi’i (and anti-Alawi) Salafi groups in Lebanon as a means of making the breakdown of law and order in Lebanon more dicey for Asad. ....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Marian Goodman continues to be one one of the best dealers in NY partly because she tries to come to terms with the conflicts between the old and new models of art; a conflict related to that between old and new models of journalism and media distribution. Fine art descends both from the monarchy and the high church, and relating itself to philosophy, deals in objects that carry pretensions to being something more than entertainment. Monetary value (of one of a kind objects) and philosophical value are related. This is why the mechanical reproduction of "art" precipitated a crisis. The art world has never come to terms with Shakespeare, just as philosophy has never come to terms with theater and "performance".

Pierre Huyghe


The current show includes a feature length film available only in an edition of 9, which is absurd. Does that detract from the film itself? What kind of film gets shown in an art gallery?  Questions for another day.

Goodman also represents Chantal Akerman, William Kentridge and Steve McQueen.


"Today there is no denying that narrative films are not only 'art' —not often good art, to be sure, but this applies to other media as well— but also, besides architecture, cartooning and 'commercial design,' the only visual art entirely alive.
Erwin Panofsky, “Style and Medium in the Motion Pictures” 1934
Nir Rosen on Israel, Iran, Egypt, and Arab/Persian, Sunni/Shia politics. He's wrong to think the Iranian government is in any danger from protests.

The Intellectuals continue their habit of discussing very seriously events that they now consider to be of great consequence. They're all very proud to be one step ahead of the NY Times.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pat Lang on Qaddafi.
Read the comments on Lockerbie and Iran as well.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Atrios. Still a liberal
The Tremendous Social Cost Of Neighborhood Gentrification

First they came for the dive bars...
Still an asshole
Ian's Pizza

Place an order (state street location)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: Reassuring friendly tryants

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: Reassuring friendly tryants: "Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday for the first stage of a Gulf tour to boost US relations with its allies in the region. "Part of what I want to accomplish is to reassure our friends and also just listen to what's on their mind," Mullen told journalists."

Monday, February 21, 2011


Arabist
Libya.
The Court, comprised three judges specialized in defamation and the Public Prosecutor. Being a criminal case within the Inquisitorial System, the case began by my interrogation by the President of the Court. I was essentially asked to explain the reasons for refusing to remove the article.
...The complainant was then subjected to the same procedure after which the lawyers made their (passionate) legal arguments. The Public Prosecutor then expressed her Opinion to the Court. I was allowed the last word. It was a strange mélange of the criminal and civil virtually unknown in the Common Law world. The procedure was less formal, aimed at establishing the truth, and far less hemmed down by rules of evidence and procedure. Due process was definitely served. It was a fair trial.
Here's the historical foundation between philosophical and legal culture in the Anglo American tradition. Most philosophy descends from Continental idealism, regarding both judicial authority and truth itself. "The other" where the subject comes up, is a product of the self-conscious anxiety of the interrogating philosopher/judge. In the adversarial legal and literary world I grew up in the other was an actual person: another lawyer, the prosecutor; a reader; a critic; your husband/wife. But I grew up around lawyers not legal philosophers.
Lawyers are neither priests nor scientists, they're performers.

"The procedure was less formal, aimed at establishing the truth, and far less hemmed down by rules of evidence and procedure."

That's the model of modernist authoritarianism right there, in the origins of modern philosophy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Can you or Sterling give one example in history where a work of “speculative culture” has been remembered as anything more than a record, and therefore at its best a description, of the time of its production?
Below repeated from May 2008.










In re: Baudelaire on "Philosophic" Art.
Watchmen, and Alfred Rethel from 1849, and 1851.

plus ça change
Didn't think of this at the time
That theorists and philosophy professors should be excited by "transgressive" readings only shows their anxiety concerning the future interpretations of their own writing. Rationalism is founded on intentionality, but history rereads everything. "Fair play" in scholarship (see the recent discussion of Heidegger) is irrelevant. The problem with comparing apples to oranges is not that it insults oranges but that it tells us nothing of interest.

Two examples of rereadings, not from trash fiction, rationalist in design, but from the high literature of the Constitution.

Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil argues that the decision was morally wrong but not technically incorrect.

What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said. Derrick Bell's essay is a dissent from the judgment itself.
The Merchant of Venice is predicated on the possibility of multiple readings. To call something "transgressive" is to give too much respect to the authority rebelled against.

And I said it all before but it bears repeating, now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

للقدس رايحين شهداء بالملايين -هتاف من ميدان التحرير

Should have posted this yesterday.
Cairo.


"To Jerusalem We go, to be the Martyrs in our Millions"

Helena Cobban
Once again: Rationalism is founded on the doctrine of original intent.
One thing that fascinates me aesthetically is when people come up with interesting and plausible readings of a text that are consistent with everything the text says, but radically at odds with the author's intentions.
It still surprises me how supposedly liberal professors of philosophy - titling themselves "philosophers" as professors of chemistry are called "chemists"- begin with the logic of Nino Scalia.

"I'm shocked... Shocked!" to find ambiguity in that sentence.

So fucking stupid. That's why they spend their time reading crap literature: the literature of ideas, of content as opposed to form. To rationalists art is illustration.

"But I love you!"
"Just because you say it doesn't make it true."
"Yes it does!"

Bureaucracy is a formal system; the system is foundational to what it produces.
---

Update (from the past). I'll repeat myself (again).
Brad DeLong:
THERE ARE NO ATTRACTIVE MODERN CONSERVATIVES BECAUSE CONSERVATISM SIMPLY IS NOT ATTRACTIVE. DEAL WITH IT!!
And again:
[Y]ou have to either live in the countryside or live in the city and be really rich to say that rubber tomatoes suck. For those humans who live in the city and are not really rich, rubber tomatoes provide a welcome and tasty and affordable simulacrum of the tomato-eating experience.
Brad Delong thinks he's not a conservative, but he's redefined liberalism to include conservative arguments.
Rationalists rationalize.

End of the motherfucking lesson.
Haaretz: "Israel 'deeply appreciates' U.S. veto on UN resolution condemning settlements."

It's no longer possible logically to call Israel a democracy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Obama is an idiot and an asshole.

Every day is Friday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011




back working for a living

NYT
First, Bahrain is a Shiite island. You won’t see it described that way, but it is — 70 percent of the population, more than the percentage of Shiites in Iraq. And like Iraq under Saddam Hussein, these Arab Shiites have been systematically discriminated against, repressed, and denied meaningful roles by a Sunni tribal government determined to maintain its solid grip on the country. The emergence of real democracy, as in Iraq, will push the country over into the Shiite column — sending shivers down the spines of other Gulf rulers, and especially in Riyadh.

...Washington is now faced again with another hard choice — the legacy of shortsighted decisions made over decades: Continue to go with local repressive regimes out of a misguided sense of “American interests”? Hold on to unpopular military bases at all costs — thereby deepening local anger and perhaps giving Iran ultimately a greater voice in events?

Or should it quietly drop support for this repressive regime, allow events to take their course and accept that long-overdue change is coming? How long can we hold on to another ugly status quo? It’s really about how bad the change will get the longer we wait.
The Guardian
Bahrain's security forces are the backbone of the Al Khalifa regime, now facing unprecedented unrest after overnight shootings. But large numbers of their personnel are recruited from other countries, including Jordan, Pakistan and Yemen.

Tanks and troops from Saudi Arabia were also reported to have been deployed in support of Bahraini forces.

Precise numbers are a closely guarded secret, but in recent years the Manama government has made a concerted effort to recruit non-native Sunni Muslims as part of an attempt to swing the demographic balance against the Shia majority – who make up around 65% of the population of 1 million.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

FLC Wikileaks
SECRET SUBJECT: IRAN ELECTIONS; DISARRAY IN BOTH CONSERVATIVE AND REFORMIST CAMPS; ....Reformists seemed divided and adrift, with no clear focus for aspirations, an uncertain message beyond criticism of Ahmedinejad, and poor prospects for electoral victory.
Also the Leveretts on protests today in Iran.

Wikileaks again: Al Jazeera
Leaked US cables show that Australia sees the Iranian nuclear programme as a "deterrent," a sharply contrary view to that of most Western countries. The leaks also reveal that Australia doesn't share the assessment that Iran is a "rogue state."

Also, Australian intelligence agencies fear Israel may launch a military strike on Iran to knock out its nuclear facilities, which they said could trigger a nuclear war, leaked US diplomatic cables have shown.
Iraq: "Curveball" says he lied
more
"The primacy of the theoretical."

Dream on.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Arabist
This isn't 1952, but Egyptian democrats should still be wary.
Reuters
Egypt's new military rulers will issue a warning on Sunday against anyone who creates "chaos and disorder", an army source said.

The Higher Military Council will also ban meetings by labour unions or professional syndicates, effectively forbidding strikes, and tell all Egyptians to get back to work after the unrest that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
More on managed social capitalism.

Freedom doesn't exit. There are only various forms of unfreedom. Or, as I've said a few times, if you believe it exists then the only examples are sociopaths and babies rolling around happily in their own shit. But neither sociopaths nor babies live very long on their own. Both are defined by the presence of others.
The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: Wael Ghonim: "I was told that he wrote this on Twitter: 'Dear Western Governments, You've been silent for 30 years supporting the regime that was oppress..."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

From Tony Karon, on politics and football: "To the struggling people of Algeria"



[I feel obliged to add] And on his chest the word: SIEMENS.
Another layer to the poetry; the individual and the collective in capitalism.
It is possible to have a macroscopic view -formal, poetic, and distant- simultaneously with a social and cultural one. Wölfflin uses the former denigrating the latter by his interest in "esthetics". Yet to see social implications and relationships is not necessarily to be enslaved by them. The relationships between the Hellenic period and the Baroque (and late capitalism?) are as much (more) esthetic as (than) anything else.

Feb 27 1991
With all the force of the celebration it may be hard for the military to hold on. The US can't be seen now to countenance terror, and the protests from the beginning have been organized, and the activists politically mature. It's a bourgeois revolution and they're hard to destroy. And if there's no chaos there's no need for the army to impose order. Their claims to authority will be treated as insults. A functioning dictatorship requires a large segment of a population to agree to be treated as children. I don't know if that exists in Egypt now.

Friday, February 11, 2011

There is no Egyptian government now.
Having listened to the statement of the armed forces spokesman; I presume that was General Anan. I would say that we now have a military junta in charge in Egypt. HM's departure after resignation leaves no law in Egypt except the will of the Egyptian generals. Under the present Egyptian constitution the speaker of the house succeeds to the presidency on resignation of the president. That did not happen. Mubarak's authority did not extend beyond his resignation. We could have had a constitutional succession but that is dead and gone as a possibility now. Now there is an extra-legal, extra-constitutional regime in charge governing under the authority of NO law. The junta has dissolved the parliament and fired the cabinet. The emergency law is no longer needed. The only law is the will of the generals. Since he was not mentioned in today's statement, I would think that Omar Suleiman will have little or no role. Let us hope that the generals are benevolent. 1952 comes to mind. The Egyptian Armed forces have only two political traditions. 1- They overthrew the monarchy in a similar soft coup in 1952 and 2- They have ruled Egypt ever since.

I just heard someone ask Robert Gibbs if Obama had called anyone in Egypt since the resignation. Who would he call, the head of the junta?
The revolution is not over
One of the least convincing slogans in Tahrir Square has been ‘the people and the army, standing together’. One can hardly blame the protesters for expressing this hope: it was, arguably, a necessary fiction, without which millions of people would not have dared to turn out to call for Mubarak to stand down. The army played its cards well. Under strong pressure from Robert Gates, it did not fire on demonstrators, and, after Mubarak’s non-resignation speech yesterday – a fantastic tribute to the powers of self-deception – it finally decided to wash its hands of him. But the army did not join the movement, either: a critical phase in classical revolutions. And the communiqués issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt have been ambiguous at best, full of vague promises and calls for people to return home. Certainly they indicate no conversion to the principle of civilian rule. The supreme council, now at the helm of power, was chosen and shaped by Mubarak; its chairman is Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, described in a 2008 WikiLeaks cables as ‘aged and change-resistant’. It is not a description that inspires confidence.
As usual:
Arabist, FLC, AA.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Interesting how leftists want to see the protests in Egypt as anti-capitalist.

Responding to someone else on Facebook: "This is part of a slowly developing but huge shift in the political cultures of the Middle East. Monarchies and dictators are now scared. US and Israeli and Europhile support [colonialist, anti-democratic and "anti-capitalist" in the sense that its defenders define capitalism] for monarchies and dictatorships is being overwhelmed by the newly aspirant Arab middle classes. It's a widespread capitalist revolution, slow-moving until recently; a modern revolution without 'modernist', utopian fantasies."

Interesting also that US connections to the Egyptian military are discussed openly by some people and not others.
The administration is not sitting around and waiting, they're working as hard as they can.
From Tony Karon on F-book. [I'm lazy]
Suleiman: The CIA's man in Cairo - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Wael Ghonim.
The Googlization of Everything

Nike won the Vietnam war, now Google and Facebook will win the Middle East. I said it before: The US is defending fascism against neoliberalism in the interest of its own hegemony. Nation states are losing the war against international capital.

"Cairo joke of the day!"
Mubarak croaks and goes to that huge 'deceased waiting room', where he meets Nasser and Sadat. They ask him: "so? What was it? Poison or a bullet." he sighs and shakes his head saying: "facebook!"
As'ad AbuKhalil
Amer sent me this: "And [Egyptian protesters are] more authentic and individualistic and natural, they do not attempt to perform for the West as much as the Lebanese. They are also less organized and directed, unlike both sides in Lebanon, they do not do north korean tricks and draw images and flags with their bodies. But make no mistake, the westernized middle class is the same everywhere."
The westernized middle class is the same everywhere.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The National (Page 2/2): "US hedges bets but insists on need for Egyptian reform."

Also Douthat, who's more honest than most defenders of the US position.
FLC
Wikileaks:[2008] "...A 'hot line' set up between the MOD & Omar Soliman is now in daily use..."
Regarding the Tahdiya [calm], Hacham said Barak stressed that while it was not permanent, for the time being it was holding. There have been a number of violations of the ceasefire on the Gaza side, but Palestinian factions other than Hamas were responsible. Hacham said the Israelis assess that Hamas is making a serious effort to convince the other factions not to launch rockets or mortars. Israel remains concerned by Hamas' ongoing efforts to use the Tahdiya to increase their strength, and at some point, military action will have to be put back on the table....

In terms of atmospherics, Hacham said the Israeli delegation was "shocked" by Mubarak's aged appearance and slurred speech. Hacham was full of praise for Soliman, however, and noted that a "hot line" set up between the MOD and Egyptian General Intelligence Service is now in daily use. Hacham said he sometimes speaks to Soliman's deputy Mohammed Ibrahim several times a day. Hacham noted that the Israelis believe Soliman is likely to serve as at least an interim President if Mubarak dies or is incapacitated. (Note: We defer to Embassy Cairo for analysis of Egyptian succession scenarios, but there is no question that Israel is most comfortable with the prospect of Omar Soliman.)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Swoop, via FLC:

"With the course of the crisis still far from settled, US is quietly stepping up its interactions with Saudi Arabia, passing assurances to the Saudi monarchy that the US unwillingness to support President Mubarak does not imply that the US any hesitation to support the Saudi leadership if confronted by a similar challenge."
Who Is Omar Suleiman?

Lots more today at FLC

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: King of Jordan

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: King of Jordan: "'The conversation, at a private home by request, was about politics. What did these Bedouins of the Zubeidi clan, a backbone of Jordan’..."
Suleiman
The US is trying to bypass ElBaradei, as insufficiently pro-Israel.

Threading the needle

Friday, February 04, 2011

Yet there is one more thing we can learn from the events in Egypt, aside from the fragility of the region we inhabit, and it is something that’s not easy to digest: The Western world’s and mostly America’s treachery. We learned that the way they abandoned President Mubarak and gave him the cold shoulder can happen to us too. Or in other words, we cannot count on the Americans at a time of crisis.
The author is an Israeli liberal.

Egypt's heroic dead.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


"Condoleezza, Condoleezza, please bring to Mubarak a visa."

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A. AbuKhalil is being silly. Obama did not sign off on Mubarak's goons. Netanyahu is a different matter.
Maureen Dowd is better than Josh Marshall but I'd expect nothing less.
Most of the liberal commentary sucks.

For better or worse I'm on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Joshua Marshall
You have to know the euphemisms and lingo of the Israel-Palestine issue to get what he's saying. But Mike Huckabee seems to be saying that solution to the conflict is for the Palestinians to leave what's now called the "West Bank" and have "the Arabs" find them a piece of land from the "vast amounts of territory that are in the hands of Muslims, in the hands of Arabs."

In other words, expulsion or what's sometimes euphemistically called "transfer".
[repeat] His friend Matthew Yglesias in 2002
After the last depressing news from the Middle East I think we have to start asking just how inhumane it would be for Israel to just expel the Palestinians from the occupied terroritories. [sic] The result would probably be out-and-out war with the neighboring Arab states, but Israel could win that.
M.J. Rosenberg now blames AIPAC for putting Israel on the wrong side of history, by supporting Arab dictators. A couple of years ago he said Israel should make deals with dictators when it could, because Arab democracies would never agree to Israeli terms. Going back further, on Oct 9 2006 he wrote: "I want the occupation to end, which means negotiating an end to it with the Palestinians whether we like them or not, and thereby preserving a majority Jewish state called Israel forever." He later deleted the post.
The beginning but not the post is at archive.org

And again, Josh Marshall and Yigal Allon
---
update:
The ire in Tahrir Square is full of ironies, not the least of which is the American president who inspired such hope in the Middle East with his Cairo speech calling around this week to leaders in the region to stanch the uncontrolled surge of democracy in the Arab world.
Josh Marshall? Atrios? Matthew Yglesias?
MoDo the hack.