Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's small, about 3 by 5 inches.

Albrecht Dürer, St. Philip 1526 Engraving, 12.2 x 7.7 mm.

but it's lovely (and I own one).

Monday, November 28, 2005

Christmas Bombings II, and "The Salvador Option" (also here).

The public defense of such actions is new; the proximity to ourselves, the people of the US, is new; the incompetence is new; the crimes and the moral justifications of the actors to themselves are not.

Leftists have always been correct in their critiques of foreign policy; liberals have always been "realists" without the honesty to admit it.
Concerned Alumni of Princeton

When I was a prep school boy, before my fall into oblivion, Princeton was known as the only Ivy League school with an official policy regarding legacy admissions. All the Ivies gave the children of Alumni an advantage, but Princeton was the only one them to give legacy a specific numeric value. I think it was about one third of the total number of points towards admission. Princeton in fact was considered second rate for undergraduate education. Even given east coast snobbery, UVA or Michigan ranked higher.
But this is all just gossip. I hope this hangs the bastard -who's also an idiot- but I'm doubtful.
Max cuts to the chase:
"Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito belonged to an organization of scumbags."

More on law, the mutual antipathy of science and skill, and why lawyers are craftsmen.
The argument is not between science and religion, or about whether or not art represents spirituality or spiritual values—whatever the fuck those word mean. What defines the opposition to science is not religion or illogic but craft (that, and introspection). Lawyers are the only craftsmen Anglo-American philosophers take seriously. [I was wrong about that] But even then the idiot philosophists don't get the fucking point. If cops are not "the law" then what are scientists?
I'm only repeating myself here because when I get a spike in hits like this it's usually because I've made a ruckus on some academic blog, and the theme is always the same. In other words: see above.

Interestingly the second link on the google search is to the archive of Jan 04, which begins on the 31st with this post:
Humanism and good writing both are in limited supply on the web. It's a thing made by and for conceptualists: ideas matter, not the forms they take. It may be important to eat and have a roof over one's head, but it doesn't matter if the roof is made of tin, the walls are made of sheetrock, and the food comes as a pill. So I wander through discussions of technology, linguistic analysis, and economic theory, references to Star Trek and Tolkien, and 'best of' lists that are predicated on such ignorance I can have no response.
People who are interested in, who take pleasure in, the strength and flexibility of language have other things to do and other ways to keep themselves engaged. The only exceptions I've found, the only others more interested in means than ends, for whom the idea of 'content' is implicitly, and in one case explicitly, vulgar are women:
two observant Muslims and a Jewish whore.
What disgusts me even more these days is that the worst, the most purblind of the lot, spend half their time declaiming the depth of their epicureanism. I wouldn't give a shit if Bainbridge were simply an Ultra but he can't make up his mind.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More on Nino at ACSBlog. From comments:
Written By: Swan On November 23, 2005 12:41 AM
There's nothing that Scalia could say that would be surprising. A law prof. who used to clerk for another Justice told us how Scalia one day revealed to a bunch of the clerks that he supports enforcement of the anti-fornication laws.

It was certainly one of the more memorable anecdotes I've heard in law school. Funny to think that the vast majority Scalia-admiring conservative law students don't even realize he's the American Taliban. People like that want to turn the U.S. into a Western Saudia Arabia. It's really shocking that someone so wacko can attain to such a high post.

Written By:Mike On November 23, 2005 01:05 AM
Swan, it is pretty scary. However, that anecdote is not a total surprise. His logic in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas makes it pretty clear that he believes in all kinds of laws for "morality" as he sees it. Being a hard-core (and very extreme) Catholic, his sense of morality dictates that fornication is wrong. He is also on the record for supporting anti-adultery statutes.
I really have no patience for Scalia. His claims to any authority beyond his title- and he wants to think he represents more- are based on nothing but simple assumptions and hypocrisy. He's the Gay Daddy to Brooks and Will.
"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees," Scanlon wrote in the memo, which was read into the public record at a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them."
Steve Clemons:
Gaffney: If it has some truth to it, I'm not sure it is outrageous.
Reporter: Seriously?
Gaffney: I believe that Al-Jazeera is an instrument of enemy propaganda in a war we are obliged to fight and win, not just for Americans and not just for Iraqis but for freedom-loving people everywhere, and I think that, to the extent that Al-Jazeera is actively aiding our foes, it is certainly appropriate to talk about what you do to neutralize it to prevent it from doing that sort of harm to the cause and even to the lives of servicemen fighting this war.
...So, an alert to ALL who attend the next public session with Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes. Please ask her whether she agrees -- at any level -- with Frank Gaffney.

Does Stephen Hadley agree with Frank Gaffney? How about Karl Rove? And of course, make sure that we ask Condoleeza Rice, Deputy Secretary of State Bob Zoellick, and Scott McClellan in the next press gaggle. . .
Clemons's ends with this:
To add one other interesting dimension to this debate about Al-Jazeera, one of my friends asked novelist Tom Clancy what he thought about the mid-term future of the arab network at the major September terrorism conference where Clancy spoke. Tom Clancy replied that he thought that in five years, Al-Jazeera would be just another mouthpiece of American interests.
Fascinating, counter-intuitive statement -- in TWN's view -- that I hope is wrong, but which many inside the Al-Jazeera network feel strikes close to home and the realm of likelihood.
All this assumes that the interests of International markets and US market policy are the same thing.
Stupid assumption.
1- NY Post:
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the high court did not inject itself into the 2000 presidential election.
Speaking at the Time Warner Center last night, Scalia said: "The election was dragged into the courts by the Gore people. We did not go looking for trouble."
But he said the court had to take the case.
"The issue was whether Florida's Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court [would decide the election.] What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn't important enough?"

LLoyd Grove continues the quote in the Daily News: "...Or give the Florida Supreme Court another couple of weeks in which the United States could look ridiculous?"
2- (today's update) from The Mirror:
The Daily Mirror was yesterday told not to publish further details from a top secret memo, which revealed that President Bush wanted to bomb an Arab TV station.
The gag by the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith came nearly 24 hours after the Mirror informed Downing Street of its intention to reveal how Tony Blair talked Bush out of attacking satellite station al-Jazeera's HQ in friendly Qatar.
3- Murray Waas in the National Journal:
Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter

Monday, November 21, 2005

Of Course the US Uses Torture:
1, 2
"At this rather late stage in life, I'm realizing that the solid America I thought I knew may never have existed. Running very close, under the surface, was a frightened, somewhat hysterical culture that could lose its civilized moorings all at once. I had naively thought that there were some things that Americans would find unthinkable --- torture was one of them."

It's post like this that make me want to stop whining about Chomsky.
"The Eternal Verities"
How many of the stories coming out now under the very broad heading of botched or manipulated intelligence could have been reported and written at more or less any time over the last two years? I suspect the answer is, the great majority of them.

They're getting written now because the president's poor poll numbers make him a readier target.

I know I'm not saying anything most of you don't know. And better late than never, of course. But all working reporters and editors should consider what that says about the profession.
There has been a rightward shift in American policy over the last 30 years which follows from a shift in the attitudes of wonks and pundits. Whether the country itself has moved to the right, or how much, is a different question. But as the poles in elite opinion have moved, the position of being between them, of being neutral has moved as well. I'm not going to argue the difference between neutrality and objectivity; the latter -like Utopia- is impossible to attain, with the former a cheap stand-in for a nonexistent character. And the only way to remove the stand-in is to remove the need for one.

This refers directly to the previous post. American moderates just call themselves liberal, meaning a little to the left of wherever the right-wing is at the moment. And they're afraid even of that. No self-awareness, no real self-criticism, no sense of irony that is not cheap or passive. No sense in fact, of what they are. Social Democrats in every other country at least have the honesty to call themselves... Bourgeois.
"Policies are important, but too often they're spun into the mediastream by politicans and think tanks assuming everyone is operating off the same set of facts. As this poll shows, that's decidedly not the case. Sometimes you have to convince voters of reality before you can persuade them on how to change it."

No, Ezra. Republicans and conservatives in power never assume "everyone is operating off the same set of facts."

Liberals' presumptions concerning themselves or anyone else never cease to amaze me.
Awareness begins with self-awareness etc.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Busy. Spent a little time here Still arguing w/ Nathan a bit in email. I have to admit I'm understanding his point more than I thought I would. The supposed neutrality of the American courts seems a little like the studied objectivity of the American press; and I complain about that enough. Without judicial review of legislation we'd have a bt more rough and tumble. For all our separation of Church and State, we treat the press, academia, and the judiciary as if they were religious orders. At the very least we allow them to think of themselves in that way.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hilzoy (Hilary Bok)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The press seems to have forgotten until recently[?] that it does not work for but opposite the government, as another representative of the people.

"(The fact that committee chairman Ted Stevens had refused to swear in these oil executives doesn't much alter the principle -- as the Post points out, it's still a crime to lie to Congress even when not under oath.)"
This administration has been uniquely inclined to treat everything as fair game, to spin a terrible terrorist attack against this country as a kind of marketing campaign for a Hollywood story about a president's leadership abilities and an administration's unparalleled right to evade normal Congressional oversight and to savage critics as traitors, to treat even national defense information as raw fungible material for propaganda purposes, for marketing the war and then spinning the post-war and then SwiftBoating critics. The press to varying degrees has tried to maneuver to get at the story through all the various and imperfect ways journalists know how, the front door and the back door, the podium story and the back story, and the triangulated story. There's a kind of agony play at hand now, and I think it demonstrates among other things how very much this administration was willing to manipulate the truth, the press, and ultimately the American public in some sort of never ending campaign that flickered at its most extreme and excessive into the orbit of something I can only describe somewhat ridiculously as fascism. The threat appears to have receded, but the sense one is left with, of a great democracy that is far more vulnerable than many had realized, is one of shock and tragedy, as well as relief.

Laura Rozen

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and a potential presidential candidate in 2008, countered in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations that the Vietnam War "was a national tragedy partly because members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late."

"To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic," Hagel said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. "America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices.
That's probably the most simple and direct comment I've ever heard from an Amercan politician, if not political figure, concerning Vietnam. [American politician post-war maybe.]
Not good enough.
"This is an odd business isn't it? Everything is up for grabs.
One rich fool pays double what he should and there's enough time to find 5 more idiots to follow him before stability returns."
...For the non-lawyers out there, Alito meant he was against the Supreme Court decisions requiring that all state legislative districts be designed to guarantee "one person, one vote", instead of giving some districts with very few voters the same representation as urban districts with far more voters.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

At the Met today, in the Fra Angelico exhibit, what fascinated me, what moved me, more than anything else was to experience the relationships between three small panels from the series that made up the predella of the High Altarpiece at San Marco, telling the story of the brothers Saints Cosmas and Damian. Each panel is a wonder of narrative and pictorial design, but to move among them is to see a different beauty, even in the absence of the whole. The greater beauty is not in one or another wooden panel but in the relations among them, and therefore in the imagination of the viewer as s/he is forced simultaneously to look and to remember.
Beauty inseparable from our awareness of time, and of mortality.

Another reason to hate DeLong. He's a fucking futurist.
What assholes.
David Fucking Gelernter
You fucking assholes. You fucking idiots.
"Once upon a time, sociologists and political theorists used to be able to get away with speaking to literary types on their own terms" link


Once upon a time sociologists and political theorists were able to communicate to a wider audience, because they understood, as "literary types"[?] always have, that they themselves were members of that wider audience.

Political/Intellectual and cultural life in the US is divided in ways no other country would want to match, in ways that nearly everyone here takes for granted, and which practically no one understands. A clash of adolescent teleolgies.

The serious UK press is better than our own for the same reason the vulgar press is lower. There is no pretense of objectivity; logic like justice is not treated as a function of debate yet its approximation is understood to be its result!.
Language and politics must remain adversarial within themselves if they are to have any meaning.
Communication involves not only logic but skill and the latter brings with it it's own prerogatives.
Etc. etc.
[update: And, oh yes, it's "Qfwfq." sorry]

I'm off to see Fra Angelico.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Vice President for Torture
Wednesday, October 26, 2005; A18
The Washington Post
VICE PRESIDENT Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States. The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture.

His position is not just some abstract defense of presidential power. The CIA is holding an unknown number of prisoners in secret detention centers abroad. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, it has refused to register those detainees with the International Red Cross or to allow visits by its inspectors. Its prisoners have "disappeared," like the victims of some dictatorships. The Justice Department and the White House are known to have approved harsh interrogation techniques for some of these people, including "waterboarding," or simulated drowning; mock execution; and the deliberate withholding of pain medication. CIA personnel have been implicated in the deaths during interrogation of at least four Afghan and Iraqi detainees. Official investigations have indicated that some aberrant practices by Army personnel in Iraq originated with the CIA. Yet no CIA personnel have been held accountable for this record, and there has never been a public report on the agency's performance.

It's not surprising that Mr. Cheney would be at the forefront of an attempt to ratify and legalize this shameful record. The vice president has been a prime mover behind the Bush administration's decision to violate the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and to break with decades of past practice by the U.S. military. These decisions at the top have led to hundreds of documented cases of abuse, torture and homicide in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Cheney's counsel, David S. Addington, was reportedly one of the principal authors of a legal memo justifying the torture of suspects. This summer Mr. Cheney told several Republican senators that President Bush would veto the annual defense spending bill if it contained language prohibiting the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by any U.S. personnel.

The senators ignored Mr. Cheney's threats, and the amendment, sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), passed this month by a vote of 90 to 9. So now Mr. Cheney is trying to persuade members of a House-Senate conference committee to adopt language that would not just nullify the McCain amendment but would formally adopt cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as a legal instrument of U.S. policy. The Senate's earlier vote suggests that it will not allow such a betrayal of American values. As for Mr. Cheney: He will be remembered as the vice president who campaigned for torture.

Friday, November 11, 2005

"I'm not a moralist, I'm an art critic."

I finally watched the thing (now here)
I'll make one change: The theme of any of these anti-hero melodramas, whether the main character is aristocratic or merely a man alone is not murder but suicide. The death of anyone else is secondary.
The tragic self-awareness of the noble hero in a world where he is irrelevant. etc.
[In writing and rewriting my last comment at CT I removed a sentence that scrambled the rest, turning it into a code. Not that anyone would care. Just note-taking]
Max and co. and Nathan have been good on the free trade bullshit over at Starbucks book klub
No de Kooning. No Struth.
The shallowness of the people at CT never ceases to amaze me.
"...I at first didn't think the Vanguard thing was a big deal. But, it's become a major window into this guy's character. Basically, he's an I'm gonna do what I want and fuck you if you think otherwise kind of guy. Pretty sad if the Senate endorses his particular view of what making under oath promises to them means."


Thursday, November 10, 2005

White Phosphorus

The second link is not easy to look at.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Josh Marshall brings us what he calls "a snippet of this evening's Nelson Report."
Laura Rosen often cuts and pastes from it as well.

Here's Cristopher Nelson's page at Samuels International " ...a diversified international consulting firm specializing in business, trade and investment matters, particularly involving policies of American and foreign governments, economic and political risk assessments, investment strategies, and negotiations on trade and investment liberalization."
Chris Nelson is editor of The Nelson Report, a daily briefing on international economic policy issues, foreign and security policy matters and their relationship to politics in Washington. This daily briefing constitutes the core element of relationships with clients who also have direct access to Mr. Nelson for confidential communications in response to their specific needs and policy interests.
Marshall ends the long quote from tonight's report, detailing the Beltway internationalist's take on the Republican policy of self destruction, with the sentence: "They've brought us very, very low."

This is just silly. Realism is what it sounds like it is, if you're tough and intelligent enough to maintain it under adverse conditions. Kissinger was not a realist by any stretch of the imagination, and neither are the idiots running this country. Some people would argue that power brought us low a long time ago, and that stupidity merely brings us lower. My own views aside, I'm not interested in the moralism of the amoral.
"Since we have the former Clintonites arguing that they are pro-growth progressives, let's put some real pro-growth progressive policies on the table."
Dean Baker and Josh Bivens at MaxSpeak
Juan Cole on the riots.
And: Two cheers for benign monarchy. We're reached or returned to the age when the wealthy are so wealthy and so comfortable with themselves and their authority that the people are grateful for their offers of assistance.
In re: almost everything I've been on about recently—whether politics or art collecting: from my parents' and now my own hardback first edition of Richard Roud's Godard.
JLG -"There's no point in having sharp images if you've got fuzzy ideas. Leacock's lack of subjectivity leads him ultimately to a lack of objectivity. He doesn't even know he's a metteur-en-scene, that pure reportage doesn't exist."
I spent some time yesterday browsing over Goffman's Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, and had the same response. If anything I'm reading or looking at—any work of human hand and mind—doesn't manifest some sort of double awareness, I become lost. The pseudo-autism of intellectual life. It's almost painful.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Struth, Sander

No real response to the riots. Does this count?
Not even here. The limits of neoliberalism indeed.

Atrios had the best short response, on Sunday:
I bounce back and forth between amusement and disgust at the right wing's bizarre and uninformed reaction to the events in Paris. Without getting into the of course important subtleties, think "60s race riots" as your comparison point, not "al Qaeda terrorists."

France treats its immigrant populations (which include, of course, 2nd and 3rd generation "immigrants") like shit. This isn't a "clash of cultures" it's rebellion by a repressed and marginalized underclass."
And I did it once, but I'll link to Direland again

UPDATE: More from the assholes at Crooked Fucking Timber And I still haven't quite gotten over the Doorman bullshit. The moral superiority of schoolteachers and pedants.
The Independent: "Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Laura Rozen reads from tonight's Nelson Report
Continuing the last post
Educated liberals are obliged as intellectuals to be internationalists while siding often, as a matter of course, with economically conservative arguments for cheap labor. Social conservatives are allied with economic conservatives in the same way, and the weaker parties on both sides—conservative and liberal—without any spokesmen of their own, end up represented by those with the agendas of their own moneyed class.
"Big deal," you say. "What else is new?"

Americans have no patience for psychology. Out of an unwillingness to become involved and a desire for quick fixes liberals as much as conservatives allow themselves to conflate human care with pity, though liberals are far more willing to indulge. But there's a huge difference between importing labor, whether by force or by recruitment, and the simple opening of doors. It makes perfect sense that new arrivals if given the chance would beat out a native-born underclass, as it makes sense that a country that allows such competition would defend economic globalization. Such a state already has shown an indifference to its native population as forceful as any defense other countries have ever made of theirs. After all, the comparison made most often over the past week has not between the immigrant populations in France and the US but between immigrants in one and a large segment of the native born population in the other.

Went to Christie's today. Saw a portrait of Colin by Elizabeth Peyton. (details are here)

It makes some sort of sense that the best description I've read of the man is in a fucking auction catalogue.
Renowned in the New York art scene, Colin De Land and the activities at his galleries, first in the heyday of the 1980's East Village at Vox Populi on East 6th Street, and then from 1988 until 2003 at the American Fine Arts on Wooster Street in SoHo, branded him as a conceptual artist as much as a gallerist. He became an art dealer by accident, when he offered to sell a Warhol painting for a neighbor who needed money for drugs. The milieu at American Fine Arts was characterized by a relaxed work atmosphere. Exhibitions did not always open on time and they often defied convention in installation. They were often critiques--of painting, of video, of institutional authority, of art itself. He permitted an artist to close the gallery for his month long slot in protest of commercialization in the art world. At times he exhibited fictional artists, such as the famous John Dogg, whose work was suspected, though never confirmed, to be a collaboration between Colin and Richard Prince. In addition, he showed many artists early in their careers, including Cady Noland, Jessica Stockholder, Mariko Mori and Alex Bag. On one occasion, when the art market was at its worst in the middle 1990s, Colin held a benefit at and for the gallery, and more than 200 artists donated works, even though most were represented by other dealers. It was precisely this kind of fabulous eccentricity that Peyton found alluring about Colin.

WHY IS FRANCE BURNING? The rebellion of a lost generation.
Doug Ireland.

I want to put something up in the near future about why I like Ireland so much more than almost every other american I read on the web.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The neoliberal imagination and a few points on religion and inquiry.

I'll begin with the latter. The understanding of debate itself as foundational marks the beginning of the secularization of culture. Once one sees one's own beliefs as existing alongside those of others, religious histories of myths and miracles become stories. Once you choose your faith, it ceases to function as a basis of language, becoming merely one of its functions. I left a comment on Russell Fox's page making this point. "Theology as such is irrelevant to intellectual debate in a democracy." Since republican forms of government are those wherein a Christian judge may hear a case argued by a Muslim lawyer concerning a dispute between a Hindu and a Jew, any forms of argument that can not be directed to every party make no sense. What to do with minorities in otherwise homogeneous communities? There's no one answer, but there is a difference between arguing from what one considers Christian principle, using one's own words or memory, and simply reading aloud from a bible.

The neoliberal imagination, the cup calls the saucer white. It's absurd for Henry Farrell to think he represents anything else. I made an only slightly annoyed observation here. Whether or not my first-hand knowledge as a construction worker in Manhattan for 25 years outweighs sociological number crunching my first point still holds, and not one person responded:

"The best way to remain on good terms with a doorman would be to actually spend some of your off hours in the basement."

Perhaps I should separate neoliberalism from post-humanist or anti-humanist post modernism, but what else can I say about those who study others as objects without reference to themselves as observers? What's the origin of this false remove?

We begin with sense; physical awareness of space, light, and motion. We are raised into and by others and by experience. We communicate by means of the collective library of imprecise notation we call language, and live our lives first and foremost as manifestations of predilection and sensibility. Whatever logical structures we build upon that foundation, however internally consistent and formally abstract, our tastes and logics, as we manifest them are inseparable. As policemen are mistaken when the assume they ARE the law, mathematicians are merely indulging in the imaginary synecdoches of autism when they identify themselves with their subject.

Corruption is inevitable in every system. A group of people become friends because they share interests and from that interest, respect. They support and protect one another. This, strictly speaking results in a form of corruption, though one that's inevitable, and which doesn't bother me. But what happens when all such people have in common is their interest in one another, when the friendship is no longer based in a third party, a subject or language? And how can we tell the difference one and the other, between the useful, functional corruption and the stifling fearful emptiness that results in the scenario of for the emperor's new clothes?

A repost from 03:
People create and maintain relationships with each other based on the things they have in common; what those interests are doesn't matter. If they share an interest in money, in politics, or in art, the same rules apply. In New York at this point of time, in the cultural milieu of which I am, in one way or another, a part, the one thing most people have in common, though they don't talk about it openly, is fear.

If the overarching logic of the past 30 years of American politics and culture has been to "give the people what they want," the art world has always prided itself on doing the opposite. "Give the people what they should have," is probably a better definition of the logic that defined the scene, or at least defined what the intellectual pitchmen declared the scene was about. Whatever the limitations the logic behind this however old fashioned, was not without a certain nobility. What purpose could there be for the idle rich, who were otherwise removed from the daily life of the people, but to help support those who like themselves felt a distance from the crowd, but who did not have the money to stay that way for long on their own? And did not these people have something to offer in the way of commentary on the run and the rush of capitalism at full throttle? And this after all was the basis of a friendship.

The culture of popular capitalism was always capable of more profundity than the art world allowed. If Roy Lichtenstein said his paintings were among other things an attempt to rescue his influences from banality - he correctly described the romance and military comics he cribbed from as 'fascist'- there were we all admit now more interesting things to look at on the newsstand and at the matinee. The New York Times "Fall Preview" is bigger than ever this year: nearly 70 pages in 3 sections, with only 10 devoted to art, including photography, and most of those dedicated to a list of the season's upcoming exhibits. The other 60 pages are made up of articles on theater, movies and music. Most of the space is taken up with puff pieces of one sort or another, but one still gets a sense of things being at stake, even in popular entertainment: of it being both a craft and a business, and a risky one. You sense effort. It's amazing what you can do under the nose of the aristocracy if no one takes you seriously.

If anti-capitalist criticality and reactionary snobbery, always the strange bedfellows of the art world, are now so obviously in conflict as to be beyond mention in polite society. If they are the couple no one wants to talk to at the party, what it there left for art? The international market is a conservative place. While all cultural activity is conservative by nature –it seeks to conserve, to remember, to memorialize– one of a kind or small batch commodities are at the far end of the spectrum. There is no need to oversimplify. There will always be something called 'Fine' art and it will continue to be a worthy subject of conversation; there will always be a market for the self consciously refined, in art as in literature. But in New York at the moment people are simply lying to themselves while waiting for the ax to fall. From the sense of superiority that once reigned, what we're offered now is a set of lazy references to popular culture, a pale imitation of Hollywood and MTV, without the effort or the intelligence. There's a pretense that by referring to 'popularity' without actually trying to be popular, one can maintain one's social standing.

"After all, I'm only slumming"
"Because I have nowhere else to go"

In this context any rearguard movement by a now reactionary modernism is irrelevant.

Of course there are good shows coming up in the next 9 months. And the largest sums of money will be, mostly, well spent. There will be a few works by younger artists that will shock, because they're bright and good and strange. Those who make them will mostly be foreign born, if not still there. But for the rest who call this place their home, there are friendships based on lies and cowardice. It doesn't matter if one is looking at artists, dealers or critics; it's painful to be around people with so little self respect, scrounging as they are for bread crumbs.
"Right to Wife"
Judge Alito, it's a pleasure to have you before our committee this morning. You're obviously an accomplished jurist, and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle speak very highly of you. I really have only one question for you, and it's my hope that you'll be able to put my mind, and the public's mind, at ease about it. What I'd like to know is, why do you think it's constitutional to treat a pregnant woman like a child?
...Now, in your opinion in Casey, right after that quote from Justice Marshall, you write this: "These harms are almost identical to those that the majority in this case attributes to Section 3209." Section 3209 is Pennsylvania's spousal-notice provision. Then you conclude, "Justice O'Connor's opinions disclose that the practical effect of a law will not amount to an undue burden unless the effect is greater than the burden imposed on minors seeking abortions in Hodgson or Matheson." And you uphold the spousal notice law because its burden doesn't exceed the burdens in those other cases.

Now, here's my question, Judge. Do you really think an undue burden for a grown woman is the same as an undue burden for a teenager? Do you think a woman deserves no more deference than a girl?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Movies and Dreams...
'How much do you want?'
(next day)
'I sold it! You said 35 right?'
'Oh... But what about my commission?...'

Today I go over the list with the man who I'm consulting with on this sort of shit. I know what I like, but the market is a different matter. It's not about quality, it's about what people want this week, and betting on what they'll want the next.

"Hey! I bought that piece!"
"From 'X'?"
"A small one, by 'XXX'?"
"No shit!"
"How much?"
no comment

in re: the last sentence of the previous post.
As I've said, my respect for the people in my neighborhood stems from the fact and their awareness of the fact that they have dual allegiences, not to two states or two cultures but to two philosophies: one of self and self-interest and another to community. My neighbors, from all over the world -from 40 different countries- are all both deeply conservative and not.

A tennis player has two allegiances: to the rules of the game and to him or herself and her desire for victory. A lawyer in a court has two allegiances: to his or her client and the the rules of court and of the law. A citizen in a democracy or a republic is required to have the same dual allegiances. There is no freedom without responsibility.

The question for ideologues and theologians is this: to what do I owe my primary allegiance? What are the foundations of my moral philosophy? Is that foundation in myself, in my own sense of what is right and wrong? Or is my sense of right and wrong, my moral compass, inseparable from my respect for the formal process, the rules of the game? And what follows if I say it is the latter? The rules of debate follow from an understanding of the rules such as they are of language: that language is not the invention or property of an individual. Rules of law may belong to, be limited by, the boundaries of a state, but language in its capacities and limitations if not its sounds and syntax, is universal. And from the universals of language, of its ambiguities, and of the relations between and among people, between selves, we end up with nothing but questions.

Freedom of Inquiry: the foundation of my moral code. Not freedom of action, nor even freedom of speech.

This is tenth grade shit. I've got no patience with anyone who does not take it for granted. No, Scalia is not particularly intelligent. No, neither is Scalito
The second act of an american life.
Any minute now. Or maybe last week.
The Guardian
AUBERVILLIERS, France (AP) - Widespread riots across impoverished areas of France took a malevolent turn in a ninth night of violence, as youths torched an ambulance and stoned medical workers coming to the aid of a sick person. Authorities arrested more than 200 people, an unprecedented sweep since the beginning of the unrest.

Bands of youths also burned a nursery school, warehouses and more than 750 cars overnight as the violence that spread from the restive Paris suburbs to towns around France. The U.S. warned Americans against taking trains to the airport through the affected areas.

At the nursery school in Acheres, west of Paris, part of the roof was caved in, childrens' photos stuck to blackened walls, and melted plastic toys littered the floor.

The town had been previously untouched by the violence. Some residents demanded that the army be deployed, or that citizens rise up and form militias. At the school gate, the mayor tried to calm tempers.

``We are not going to start militias,'' Mayor Alain Outreman said. ``You would have to be everywhere.''

Fires and other incidents were reported in the northern city of Lille, in Toulouse, in the southwest, Rouen, in the west and elsewhere on the second night of unrest in areas beyond metropolitan Paris. An incendiary device was tossed at the wall of a synagogue in Pierrefitte, northwest of Paris, where electricity went out after a burning car damaged an electrical pole.

``This is dreadful, unfortunate. Who did this? Against whom?'' Naima Mouis, a hospital worker in Suresnes, asked while looking at the hulk of her burned-out car.

On Saturday morning, more than 1,000 people took part in a silent march in one of the worst-hit suburbs, Aulnay-sous-Bois, filing past burned-out cars to demand calm. One banner read: ``No to violence.'' Car torchings have become a daily fact in France's tough suburbs, with about 100 each night.

The Interior Ministry operations center reported 754 vehicles burned throughout France from Friday night to Saturday morning - three-quarters of them in the Paris area.

Arrests were also up sharply, with 203 people detained overnight, the center said. By comparison, Interior Ministry Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday that police had made 143 arrests during the whole first week of unrest.

The violence - sparked after the Oct. 27 accidental electrocution of two teenagers who believed police were chasing them in Seine-Saint-Denis - has laid bare discontent simmering in France's poor suburbs ringing big cities. Those areas are home to large populations of African Muslim immigrants and their children living in low-income housing projects marked by high unemployment, crime and despair.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin oversaw a Cabinet meeting Saturday to evaluate the situation.

The persistence of the violence prompted the American and Russian governments to advise citizens visiting Paris to avoid the suburbs, where authorities were struggling to gain control of the worst rioting in at least a decade.

An attack this week on a woman bus passenger highlighted the savage nature of some of the violence. The woman, in her 50s and on crutches, was doused with an inflammable liquid and set afire after passengers were forced to leave the bus, blocked by burning objects on the road, judicial officials said.

Late Friday in Meaux, east of Paris, youths prevented firefighters from evacuating a sick person from an apartment in a housing project, pelting them with stones and torching the awaiting ambulance, an Interior Ministry officer said. The officer, not authorized to speak publicly, asked not to be named.

``I'm not able to sleep at night because you never know when a fire might break out,'' said Mammed Chukri, 36, a Kurdish immigrant from northern Iraq living near a burned carpet warehouse. ``I have three children and I live in a five-story building. If a fire hit, what would I do?''

A national police spokesman, Patrick Hamon, said there appeared to be no coordination between gangs in the various riot-hit suburbs. He said, however, that neighborhood youths were communicating between themselves using mobile phone text messaging or e-mails to arrange meeting points and alert each other to police
Riots Spread
Nov 3
Seven Nights and Counting

I'm surprised there's been so little comment.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Libby pleads innocent.
The Guardian
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - The European Commission said Thursday it will investigate reports that the CIA set up secret jails in eastern Europe.
European Union spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said the EU head office would informally question the 25 national governments over the reports.

"We have to find out what is exactly happening. We have all heard about this then we have to see if it is confirmed.'' He said if such secret prisons existed, they would violate EU human rights rules.
I'll fix it later

Ambition Countering Ambition.
It's not the press's  job to be fair, or even honest. It's our job to keep them honest. The paragraphs below, from Balkinization, discuss the tripartite structure of the USG. I've tried to explain a thousand times why I get a headache every when I read or discuss politics in this country. And it is the result precisely of the willed ignorance -denial- by so many of the fact that they represent interests as much or more so than ideas. The assholes at Tapped can not see themselves as representing a middle class intellectuality. The can not see how much their language invariably refers back to a sensibility, a manner and taste; and Yglesias that fathead fuck; and Crooked Timber. When Henry Farrell refers to neo-liberalism in the ideas of others my eyes roll back into my head and my hands begin to shake. I go almost catatonic.
It is a the height of hypocrisy for a man -one who is not fully a living saint, of which the only example I can think of is Fra Angelico- to imagine himself and his perceptions as non-subjective. A better word. Use it as the alternative term and see if you're not immediately embarrassed to claim such philosophical clarity. 'I'm a non-subjective journalist.' Try not to laugh. And don't fucking ask me who Fra Angelico was.

But that reminds me of a story about the great art historian Meyer Schapiro, who in all his wisdom as a socialist and a scholar, attempted to psychoanalyze his own son, for the son's benefit of course. What moral clarity. What non-subjective reason. What blindness. What cruelty.

The pseudo-scientific false neutrality of the modern American press and political intelligencia. 'Political' science: as if the study of human behavior is akin to the study of plant-life. And scientists are plants. Affectations of innocence all around. Good intentions. Sincerity. Willfully vulgar anti-intellectualism. All so fucking American. You want to blame the right wing for this shit? Why DeLong reminds me of Chomsky and Bainbridge reminds me of Delong. Down the fucking food chain from brilliant pedantry to moralizing mediocrity.

Jack Balkin
The American constitutional system divides national powers into three branches, and then allows each branch to check the others while preserving their independence. The purpose is to diffuse power and allow ambition to counter ambition. If the President becomes too monarchical, Congress or the Courts will oppose him and take him down a notch; if Congress tries to concentrate power, the President can veto legislation and the courts can strike it down or read it narrowly. If the courts get out of line, the President and the Senate can appoint new judges and Justices, or threaten to limit the court's jurisdiction, and so on.

Behind this theory is the assumption that the different branches will have different interests premised on their institutional loyalties. The President will seek to protect and extend executive power, the Congress legislative prerogatives, and the courts judicial authority. As Madison explained in Federalist 51, this was the point: "the interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place." Presidents, because they were presidents, would always check a Congress that seemed to encroach on their authority; Congress, because it was Congress, would always have incentives to oversee Presidential malfeasance, first because the President was not doing what Congress wanted, and second, because ambitious Congressmen and Senators could make a name for themselves by exposing executive overreaching and corruption.

There was, alas, a fly in the ointment. The framers did not expect a party system; they opposed political parties, thinking them bad for democracy.

...Faced with such a state of affairs, and powerless to use the investigative tools of Congress to check Presidential incompetence and venality, the Democrats in the minority did the only thing left to them. They engaged in a public relations stunt to shame the Republican majority in Congress.

In the short run, it seems to have worked. Congress will now move forward with some sort of investigation into the Administration's use of intelligence. (How serious that investigation proves to be remains to be seen.)

But in the long run, these sorts of ploys won't be an effective substitute for a working system of checks and balances.

If Congress won't perform its assigned function of oversight, the only recourse is the American people. Will they become sufficiently engaged to put our constitutional system back in order, and once again let ambition counter ambition?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Now I know why I don't read Neiwert
"One of the reasons Michelle Malkin fails the test of being an actual journalist lies in the way she conducts her work: There is simply no evidence of any attempt at fairness."

Every man and woman has to make up his or her own mind. The notion of enforced fairness leads to passivity. We're each the guardian of our own imagination.

Try telling a prosecutor or a defense attorney to be fair.
What a fucking idiot.

For part two see above.
Too much time with Bainbridge. As I said, I'm going back to DeLong. A higher level of cognitive dissonance.

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions..."
link from Laura Rozen: "Read that last line again. It clearly means that these activities are not being reported to the Congressional oversight committees. Under whose authority? Isn't that illegal?"


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I missed all the fun today, didn't I?
I posted a comment last night at Professor Bainbridge and he's responded to me in a post. I've been getting a lot of visitors today.

Conservatives are as philosophically opposed to human empathy are liberals are philosophically predisposed to assuming they themselves exhibit it.

Conservatives aren't that smart and they know it. But they're afraid of being conned and they suspect rightly that most liberals are hypocrites. Bainbridge is a lower-middle-class kid who wants His; and he's a Catholic who believes in old fashioned morality. How he reconciles the philosophical defense of selfishness with Catholic moral teaching I have no idea.