Friday, September 30, 2005


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

As someone who has spent most of the last 25 years living and working alongside illegals- as a non-union construction worker- this just cracks me up.
My wages have gone flat or dropped even as my skill level has increased. I make up some of the difference in social capital, (and now since my both my parents have died, from stocks and bonds.) I enjoy contradictions. And It's a contradiction of this country that the immigrants are as interesting these days as the natives are lost.

This was pretty funny too.
On a darker note I'd like to add that unlike any of the moralizing commentators in this country the assholes posting the photographs have seen their friends' hands, arms, and heads blown off. I don't expect much from people, and I expect less from soldiers. I expect something more from anyone who claims to be a leader; and my father was a believer in the death penalty, for those convicted of betraying the public trust.

Monday, September 26, 2005

" don't repair disorganized or incompetent government by granting it more power. You fix it by making it more organized and more competent. Just so here -- the move to militarize government's domestic responsibilities rather than improve them is a dangerous trend. And it suggests that, functionally, there's little left of conservatism today other than a warped big-government authoritarianism."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Berube v. Brownback

And Russert's performance this morning was indeed grotesque

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Here's the link to the HRW report:
Leadership Failure- Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division

update: Legal and moral analysis by Scott Horton at Balkinization

I posted this in comments:
This is the difference between corruption by action and corruption by inaction. Torture has 'been allowed.' One doesn't lead, one merely responds to others, even as one relies on assumptions as to how soldiers will act when they're 'let off the leash.'

It's the cynical manipulation of mob rule. In a more general sense you could say the avoidance of responsibility, the reliance on polling as policy -the people should 'get what they want'- and the tendencey towards philosophical naturalism all play a part in this. People are seen as rationally, predictably acting within their limits rather than being asked to see themselves as moral actors with the possibility of transcendng those limits.
Of course in this country it's seen as a choice between egalitarianism or cynicism, and its not that simple; any more than it's there's a simple choice between original intent and some other interpretative mechanism.

There's a problem here, and it bodes ill for the republic. People can't tell the moral/ intellectual difference between flexibility and randomness, dynamism and chaos.
Tell me I'm supposed to give a fuck.
For these "grunts" as Mr. Kaplan calls them, the mission is everything. Political implications and larger strategic thinking they leave to others. As Mr. Kaplan writes of the Green Berets in Colombia: "They lived for the particular technical task at hand, and were willing to die, provided there would be someone behind them to pick up the task where they had left off." Or as Bob Innes, a veteran of the United States Coast Guard, says of Vietnam: "I learned that honor and integrity are personal qualities, not institutional ones, not ones we should expect the state to always have. If you don't like the policy, tough. Bad things happen in this world. You do the best you can in your job, and let the crybabies write the books."In fact, most of the noncom and middle-level officers Mr. Kaplan meets in the Philippines do not speak in terms of "saving" or "improving" the country. Rather, he writes, "these men saw their charge in terms of developing a cadre of Westernized officers and useful contacts in both the Christian and Muslim communities who could be influential even in the event that the state broke up. None of the Americans were cynical [!!?], yet all of them were aware of America's limitations amid vast and roiling cultural and political forces. But they persevered, finding deep personal meaning in their jobs."

On a wider note in regards to the nationalism light [cute?] of the idiots at Democracy Arsenal, and my general contempt for the American variety of politicized intellectualism:

Why do science and scientific logic offer such a lousy template for cosmopolitan internationalism?
For the same reason the ideal of an objective journalism is absurd (and the British press is so much better than our own). Cosmopolitanism takes pleasure in disunity and discontinuity, not out of nihilism but out of respect.

The problem (for me) with the majority of self styled "mature' political thinkers in and around the US is not that they have beliefs I'm opposed to but that they pretend they don't have beliefs as such (beliefs of course which are not and can not be rational). It's for others to remind them of the self interest hidden behind their assumptions.
As to the link above: Between impartial morality and nationalism -and given that power tends to corrupt- nationalism wins.
These people are as deluded as the Chomskians with whom they have so little patience.
Again the difference between wanting to be 'right' and wanting to be 'skilled.'

One of the problems of modern art as well of course. but I've only realized recently and by accident, how personally I took this years ago, as I was trying to come to terms with the 'fictive' space of photographs, movies and classical pictorial as opposed to modern 'factual' or 'presentational' painting. One of the wonders of fiction is that it can both describe and invent. It contains/exhibits by it's nature an ironic duality of objective and subjective. And it articulates rather than hides that duality. Modernity as ideology rather than era stood as opposed to this. If power corrupts, politics makes vulgar.

But of course postmodernists- (again: ideology rather than era)- have been most often little more than self indulgent rebels, the angry adolescent offspring of their overbearing and contemptuous teachers.

a bit rough
I gotta go

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pompous idiots

Monday, September 19, 2005

It amuses me no end that gentrification becomes a scandal in the eyes of liberals only when it happens quickly. Is the slow invasion of Williamsburg Brooklyn by liberal Manhattanites somehow more natural than the quick-witted greed of well connected republicans in Louisiana?

Not unrelated.

"Damned if I know" either.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

And When They Came For Me...
"It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces - the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice."
Laura Rozen caught it as well.

And please, no more defense of Richard Clarke.

Listening to Hitchens v. Galloway stream on KPFTX. Fun stuff, but the booing when Gorgeous George attacks Sharon is depressing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I'm being overrun by teenage anthro-slackers?

Monday, September 12, 2005

One last time: DeLong is an asshole. Read the comments by 'David'.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mark Danner hits the mainstream, or: An Article from the Guardian is Accidentally Published in the NY Times.

The new sincerity of the slumming intellectual. Playing to the masses from the college lecture hall. Midcult made not by design but as the effect of insecure hypocrisy.

Class divides everything in the country, without anyone admitting it. The writers of N+1 are trapped in the urbane ghetto of Manhattan culture; it doesn't mean shit that they live in Brooklyn (where they're hated). The strength of American arts and letters is derived from two sorts: those smart and sophisticated enough to get the fuck out (or rich enough to be able to travel at will) and those with the wise old man's appreciation for honest vulgarity and dishonest skill.

update: Henry F. chooses N+1.
It needs to be asked why young intellectual journals published in NYC in 2005 are so provincial.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I tossed this off yesterday and saved it as a draft:
Less intelligent and even more intellectually vulgar than that asshole from Berkeley, it's Alex Tabarrok.
Kozol's argument can be summed up thusly:

"Letting people escape over the Berlin Wall starves the East German system of the presence of well-educated, politically effective people to fight for the equity of all East Germans."
Smart huh? But of course the argument makes perfect sense within limits. I could say just as easily: "Brave men don't run, they stand and fight." It's an old argument.

I'm not going to add to this string of oversimplifications. Anyone who offers up critiques of others' assumptions with no more than their own assumptions is a fool. Tabarrok counters Kozol's moral arguments -arguments about what does and should constitute moral action- by arguing that such arguments amount to an attack on freedom. But there's no such thing as freedom. Swedish social democracy is bounded by the Swedish culture of conformity, just as American politics is bounded by our culture of idealism and self-destruction (and not every country has our reputation for destroying public toilets.) And I speak English not my own variety of Gxzshppsph. So lets dump this 'libertarian' shit once and for all. Libertarians have their heads up their asses when they pretend culture is no more than exotic decorations and strange food.

As I've mentioned before, DeLong tries to have it both ways: to see himself as a man in search of wisdom, in the classical sense, and as the modern social scientist. Isn't the point of rational self-interest that it obviates most discussion of morality? Assuming that everyone behaves the same way and has the same interests -or that what may be universal interests have the same form- leads to the logic that everyone should have the same interests. So Americans are just like Norwegians, and German is just like Swahili.

The world is not made of what we use to measure it. The only logical choice is to use more than one measure and compare the results. Simple. Really fucking simple.
Delong reminds me of Chomsky: rationalist philosophy predicated upon simplistic assumptions as to human motives, desires and capacities. He throws fits about Ch. only because their assumptions are opposed.
Similar problems here
my comment at Pharyngula is here

Monday, September 05, 2005

The end of welfare as we know it.


"I am stunned by an interview I conducted with New Orleans Detective Lawrence Dupree. He told me they were trying to rescue people with a helicopter and the people were so poor they were afraid it would cost too much to get a ride and they had no money for a "ticket." Dupree was shaken telling us the story. He just couldn't believe these people were afraid they'd be charged for a rescue."

Sunday, September 04, 2005

More ways to miss the point.
The Times-Picayune open letter to the President
Nathan Newman:
"The Bush administration has been actively hostile to the trade unions in Iraq-- even keeping old Saddam Hussein laws in place to restrict union rights -- but a new decree 875 by the new government promises an even worse crackdown or even elimination of labor union independence in that nation." more
I saw this this morning. By about a sentence into the second paragraph, the man was in tears, his voice almost inaudible.
---update: here's the video---

A compilation (from yesterday) by Michael Froomkin

Baghdad on the Bayou

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Also from Doug Ireland: Neo-liberal Iraq
Doug Ireland sends readers to Molly Ivins. This throw-away line struck me: "...long-range consequences of long-term policies like letting the Corps of Engineers try to build a better river than God..."

Friday, September 02, 2005

Max speaks, you listen
As a matter of legacy insurance, party politics and what are in fact the best interests of the country, Clinton would do better being seen next to Jimmy Carter than the Bushes.
A cynical move but not a smart one.

The tragedy, the wonder, and the glory of this country are in the anti-politics and stubborn dreams of a certain kind of freedom.
I don't blame the Bush administration any more or less than I blame the people who voted for them. I don't blame Clinton for the short term logic of his scheming then or now. I suppose I blame intellectuals who live in fantasy worlds, neocon, neo-liberal, or neomarxist. I hate economists more than anything for their lack of irony; the same is true for acolytes of Nader or Chomsky. I hate newspapermen who think of themselves as writers.

The beginnings of freedom, of the ability to act with disinterested curiosity, is in the assumption of interest. Begin with doubt, or even fear. A hard row to hoe, and there's no machine either material or intellectual, to do it for you. I'll forgive mass murderers before I forgive those who argue otherwise
"As long as issues of language, health, economics, politics, etc. continue to have a cultural component which cannot easily be reduced to the models used to study those particular phenomenon, there will continue to be a place for anthropology as a discipline." Savage Minds

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Over the border.

From a friend: InSite05
Go read Laura Rozen

“This is a national disgrace,” said Terry Ebbert, head of New Orleans’ emergency operations. “FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control,” Ebbert said. “We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims but we can’t bail out the city of New Orleans."
No Homeland Security
From Atrios. Jack Cafferty on CNN:

"I'm 62. I remember the riots in Watts. I remember the earthquake in San Francisco, I remember a lot of things. I have never, ever, seen anything as bungled and as poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people in the Superdome. What is going on? This is Thursday! This storm happened 5 days ago. This is a disgrace. And don't think the world isn't watching. This is the government that the taxpayers are paying for, and it's fallen right flat on its face as far as I can see, in the way it's handled this thing."
"A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman."

The Democrats don't need any more reformers fighting the good fight against immorality and greed; Chomky is an absurd figure as a politician, and to the extent he imagines otherwise, he's an idiot. Neither do they need more wealthy politicos whose hypocrisy is patent to everyone but themselves. They need a sinner who knows what he is and when enough is enough. Anyone who's read this page for awhile knows I'm thinking of the man I shared a beer with on election night 92, and also that we're not going to get someone like that here. But when a member of the administration gets upbraided by someone with enough money to shop at Ferragamo, I know there's a lot of room to operate, if someone's willing to do it.
"The comparison pinpoints the genetic differences that have arisen in the two species since they split from a common ancestor some six million years ago.".

I don't live in Bobo's World, but then no one lives there. It's a parody and an insult and not just to the idiot Brooks, who's nothing more than a guilty urbanite. You want me to start in on the history of urbane sophistocated criminality? You think there's more hypocrisy in born again Kentucky than the academy? More hypocrisy in Al Sharpton's Brooklyn or Giuliani's Bensonhurst than on the Upper West Side?
I understand why many people hate this country, but if you hate it, you have to hate the whole thing, if you can.
• Abu, Ahmed, Musab and Salar, a cell of Islamic terrorists sent to Chicago by a nefarious network resembling Al Qaeda, are getting chewed out by their murderous boss, just in from Afghanistan. (They have been spending the organization's money like crazy but haven't blown anything up.) Just then, two deliverymen knock on the apartment door, bearing a huge flat-screen TV.

• Ahmed, whose cover is a job as a bike messenger, falls in love with a neighborhood florist - who turns out to be Jewish - but can't get up the nerve to ask her out. "You're bright, you're funny, you're talented," Musab says, urging his comrade on. "Who made the best nail bomb in training camp? You did!"

• Abu blends in by joining a bowling team, and becomes a fanatic: "We will dance in the blood of the losers from Hal's Body and Paint Shop!" he vows. But he is a hapless terrorist. A fertilizer bomb in his trunk accidentally goes off outside when he is bowling for the league championship - toppling his last two pins and clinching victory.
On the situation in New Orleans, Max has been hard nosed, but good.
Scroll down and read around.

Also Doug Merrill @ Fist Full of Euros put's it well:
A Million Refugees in a First World Country
"Imagine the entire population of Munich, of Lyon or of Copenhagen evacuated because of a natural disaster."