Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eric Posner: The World Doesn’t Love the First Amendment.

Older comments (mine):
The normative changes over time; it's absurd to say otherwise. The Weimarization of American politics may make Posner and Vermeule's arguments relevant as description, but prescription is another matter. 
Can we not find a more direct response to fascist logic than to criticize it as romance?

Balkin is acting as an advocate, as lawyers do. He’s engaged in an argument with Posner, Vermeule and their ilk. But his logic or his faith force him to fudge his history to defend his vision of democracy, which allows Vermeule to counter as a hardened realist and blablabla [blablabla]. I find myself more and more envious of Canada and the living tree doctrine, which renders all this irrelevant.

Our relation to the Constitution is like our relation to Don Giovanni. And every time Peter Sellars has a new production set in Trump Tower or Las Vegas, we set about arguing whether he made the thing fresh or somehow screwed it up. The only difference between the two debates is I suppose the matters of life and death, or justice and tyranny: the baggage of politics. I love baggage; thinking about baggage takes up a good part of my life. But treating politics as baggage, as vulgar, has its advantages. I see no need to waft about in discussions of faith and redemption; fascism is fascism, why pussyfoot around it? Posner and Vermeule defend what lovers of democracy abhor, what else is there to say? They claim to find support for this in the Constitution but Christian kings found support for the Crusades in the Bible. They claim to defend reason. My response is simple. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it: “That authoritarianism has become normative may be a scientific fact, but that does not make authoritarianism itself a scientific truth.”

Balkin is arguing from the past and about the future, but somehow the present is lacking.
Related. Quoting myself on Tushnet
It says something about the decline of this country that a specialist in Middle East Studies writing about Kuwait gives a better defense of free speech than a professor of American constitutional law does writing about The U.S.
To go into detail on that fucking idiot start here. For Farrell on democracy (recently) go here. Bertram: "various speech restrictions naturally suggest themselves." etc.

Tyler Cowen, 2006
"Shantytowns might well be more creative than a dead city core. Some of the best Brazilian music came from the favelas of Salvador and Rio. The slums of Kingston, Jamaica, bred reggae. New Orleans experienced its greatest cultural blossoming in the early 20th century, when it was full of shanties. Low rents make it possible to live on a shoestring, while the population density blends cultural influences. Cheap real estate could make the city a desirable place for struggling artists to live. The cultural heyday of New Orleans lies in the past. Katrina rebuilding gives the city a chance to become an innovator once again."
When I first read that I had a hard time taking it seriously. I asked Henry Farrell and the rest of the idiots at Crooked Timber if he could possibly be serious. I asked Max Sawicky, then of EPI. No one would come out and say that the argument was grotesque. The best Max could do was to describe the argument as made in earnest: the courtesy of members of a tribe towards their own.
Some things have changed, some haven't.

John Quiggin writes about utopia.

Farrell links to frequent commenter J.W. Mason writing at Jacobin/Hamas responding to Mike Beggs on Graeber. Mason
Mike Beggs read Debt, and he didn’t like it. The book’s “main arguments,” he says, are “wholly unconvincing.”

That’s too bad. Debt is certainly not without its flaws, but I think Jacobin has missed a good opportunity to connect David Graeber’s opus with the broader conversation economics on the Left. Mike sees Debt as “a move in an interdisciplinary struggle: anthropology against economics.”
Daniel Davies on culture. A rare passing reference.
Something like this has, of course, been mostly visible in the European countries which were hardest hit by the banking crisis. In Ireland and Spain, the cost of financial bailouts have been almost entirely met by spending cuts rather than tax increases. Once more, this compares poorly to Sweden, which financed its massive bank bailout program by raising the top rate of income tax to 58% and introducing a 20% VAT. But Sweden in the 90s was the kind of society in which this was possible - because there was a general culture of social solidarity and tax compliance. People were used to the overall budget and the overall funding of that budget as something that the whole Swedish population was involved in; if they had been used to thinking of taxes as something taken from part of the population and given to another part, presumably they would have had just the same reluctance to pay them.
"But Sweden in the 90s was the kind of society in which this was possible."

The forest for the trees. DD on the military and on the 2005 riots in France. My reference in a comment to Belle Waring was to this: "Working On A Groovy Thing" "Now, why don’t I have anything to say about the rioting in France?" My comment at Waring's post was the following, from Atrios, who's good for once.
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.
Linked here, where I linked also to Doug Ireland. In another post Atrios linked to Juan Cole. A third, very smart:
Connerly's France
Just to add on a bit to what Juan Cole wrote to reiterate a couple of things. France's approach to multiculturalism and race is essentially that of Ward Connerly you simply make it officially not exist. A couple years back Connerly pushed for a ballot measure in California which would've made it illegal for the state government, in most cases, to make any racial classifications by race. While I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the notion that such classification systems are problematic for various reasons, the alternative is simply having no information at all about race.

This is France's system. This is the conservative approach to race and society. This is what they've spent the last week mocking.

They're such idiots.
Davies in a comment in his post (replying to others)
If it’s not the case that poor policy-making has resulted in the maintenance of an economic underclass not integrated with the rest of French society,

well I see where you’re going, but this is theorising beyond the evidence. What there is decent evidence for is “they’re rioting because they’re poor and nobody respects them”.

I don’t think we can argue from there to

1) “they’re an economic underclass” (if the term “underclass” is to mean anything more than they’re poor), or that

2) “poor policy-making has resulted” in this, as opposed to the simple fact that France has been in recession or near-recession for about seven years. There were certainly towns in the Welsh Valleys that had unemployment of 40% and more for long periods in the 1980s and 90s, under completely different policies.

3) that they’re “not integrated with the rest of French society”. I would want to see much more evidence before taking this on trust, and I’d probably be looking for a rigorous definition of what “integrated” meant in this context.

They’re rioting because a) they’re poor b) there was an incident that got them angry c) they’ve been allowed to keep rioting and d) it hasn’t rained. The general conditions that lead to riots are pretty well-studied, and I would assume that the size and frequency of them follows something like a power law distribution; despite the conspiracy theorists, a riot is usually a self-organising phenomenon. Given this, I’m not sure that we need a specific theory of particular riots.
A pile on. The mediocrity of the people of the culture of ideas. See also 2004

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"The Accidental Empire: The untold story, based on groundbreaking original research, of the actions and inactions that created the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories"

"The Accidental Empire: More than any other nation in the eurozone, Germany has the economic heft to be able to influence the course of the current crisis."

Monday, September 24, 2012

If some of the foreign fighters in Aleppo were callow, others such as Abu Salam al Faluji boasted extraordinary experience. Abu Salam, a rugged Iraqi with a black keffiyeh wrapped around his head, said he had fought the Americans in Falluja when he was a young man. Later he joined al-Qaida in Iraq and spent many years fighting in different cities before moving to Syria to evade arrest. These days he was a commander of the one of the muhajiroun units.

I found him watching a heated debate between the Syrian commanders about how to defend the buckling frontline.

The government attack had begun as predicted and mortars were exploding in the streets nearby, the sound of machine-gun fire ricocheting between the buildings. The mortars were hammering hard against the walls, sending a small shower of shrapnel and cascading glass, but Abu Salam stood unflinching.One Syrian, breathing hard, said that he had fired three times at the tank and the RPG didn't go off.

"Don't say it didn't go off," Abu Salam admonished him. "Say you don't know how to fire it. We used to shoot these same RPGs at the Americans and destroy Abrams tanks. What's a T72 to an Abrams?

"Our work has to focus on IEDs and snipers," he told the gathering. "All these roofs need fighters on top and IEDs on the ground. You hunt them in the alleyways and then use machine-guns and RPGs around corners.

"The problem is not ammunition, it's experience," he told me out of earshot of the rebels. "If we were fighting Americans we would all have been killed by now. They would have killed us with their drone without even needing to send a tank.

"The rebels are brave but they don't even know the difference between a Kalashnikov bullet and a sniper bullet. That weakens the morale of the men.

"They have no leadership and no experience," he said. "Brave people attack, but the men in the lines behind them withdraw, leaving them exposed. It is chaos. This morning the Turkish brothers fought all night and at dawn they went to sleep leaving a line of Syrians behind to protect them. When they woke up the Syrians had left and the army snipers had moved in. Now it's too late. The army has entered the streets and will overrun us."

He seemed nonchalant about the prospect of defeat.

"It is obvious the Syrian army is winning this battle, but we don't tell [the rebels] this. We don't want to destroy their morale. We say we should hold here for as long as Allah will give us strength and maybe he will make one of these foreign powers come to help Syrians."

The irony was not lost on Abu Salam how the jihadis and the Americans – bitter enemies of the past decade – had found themselves fighting on the same side again.
Mishra in the Times:
America’s Inevitable Retreat From the Middle East
But the obsession with radical Islam misses a more meaningful analogy for the current state of siege in the Middle East and Afghanistan: the helicopters hovering above the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon in 1975 as North Vietnamese tanks rolled into the city.

That hasty departure ended America’s long and costly involvement in Indochina, which, like the Middle East today, the United States had inherited from defunct European empires. Of course, Southeast Asia had no natural resources to tempt the United States and no ally like Israel to defend. But it appeared to be at the front line of the worldwide battle against Communism, and American policy makers had unsuccessfully tried both proxy despots and military firepower to make the locals advance their strategic interests.

...It is as though the United States, lulled by such ideological foils as Nazism and Communism into an exalted notion of its moral power and mission, missed the central event of the 20th century: the steady, and often violent, political awakening of peoples who had been exposed for decades to the sharp edges of Western power. This strange oversight explains why American policy makers kept missing their chances for peaceful post-imperial settlements in Asia.

As early as 1919, Ho Chi Minh, dressed in a morning suit and armed with quotations from the Declaration of Independence, had tried to petition President Woodrow Wilson for an end to French rule over Indochina. Ho did not get anywhere with Wilson. Indian, Egyptian, Iranian and Turkish nationalists hoping for the liberal internationalist president to promulgate a new “morality” in global affairs were similarly disappointed.

None of these anti-imperialists would have bothered if they had known that Wilson, a Southerner fond of jokes about “darkies,” believed in maintaining “white civilization and its domination over the world.” Franklin D. Roosevelt was only slightly more conciliatory when, in 1940, he proposed mollifying dispossessed Palestinian Arabs with a “little baksheesh.”

Roosevelt changed his mind after meeting the Saudi leader Ibn Saud and learning of oil’s importance to the postwar American economy. But the cold war, and America’s obsession with the chimera of monolithic Communism, again obscured the unstoppable momentum of decolonization, which was fueled by an intense desire among humiliated peoples for equality and dignity in a world controlled by a small minority of white men.

Ho Chi Minh’s post-World War II appeals for assistance to another American president — Harry S. Truman — again went unanswered; and Ho, who had worked with American intelligence agents during the war, was ostracized as a dangerous Communist. But many people in Asia saw that it was only a matter of time before the Vietnamese ended foreign domination of their country.

For the world had entered a new “revolutionary age,” as the American critic Irving Howe wrote…

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Guardian Sept 22: Turkish court sentences ex-generals to 20 years for attempted coup.

repeat. Dani Rodrik, at Crooked Timber in 2008, and in 2010, defending his father-in-law in Foreign Policy
On Feb. 22, Cetin Dogan, a retired four-star Turkish Army general, was detained and subsequently imprisoned by Turkish prosecutors, accused of masterminding an elaborate plot in 2002 and 2003 to topple the country's newly elected conservative Islamist government.

The military has long set the ground rules of Turkish politics. Its hard line defending secularism has resulted in frequent clashes with political movements it views as "soft" on Islam, such as the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has governed the country since November 2002. Periodically, the military has intervened, bringing down governments and, on occasion, establishing periods of military rule, most recently from 1980 to 1983. 
more on his page.
The second paragraph above isn't defending Dogan; it's defending the history of military interference. Given that, I'm not sure I care about the specifics of the case.

repeat. The Times in 2008: Tension About Religion and Class in Turkey
When two women in Islamic head scarves were spotted in an Italian restaurant in this city’s new shopping mall this month, Gulbin Simitcioglu did a double take.

Covered women, long seen as backward peasants from the countryside, “have started to be everywhere,” said Ms. Simitcioglu, a sales clerk in an Italian clothing store, and it is making women like her more than a little uncomfortable. “We are Turkey’s image. They are ruining it.”

As Turkey lurches toward a repeal of a ban on head scarves at universities, the country’s secular upper middle class is feeling increasingly threatened.

...Meanwhile, universities across Turkey are preparing for the final approval of the ban’s repeal, which will go into effect after Mr. Gul signs it into law this week. Faruk Karadogan, the rector of Istanbul Technical University, said he was expecting confusion.

“The problem is not the scarf; it’s their way of thinking, their minds,” he said of observant Turks. “If you have somebody brainwashed like that, it’s very hard to get her back to a way of contemporary thinking.”

But a few buildings away, Ece Ulgen, 20, a chemistry student whose classmates include covered women (they wear hats or wigs), offered a different view.

“I have many friends who wear the head scarf,” she said. “I enjoy their friendship. They’re clever, smart women. Not like what people say: Unscientific and only interested in religion.”
repeat. The Times, Sept.14th
CAIRO — Following a blunt phone call from President Obama, Egyptian leaders scrambled Thursday to try to repair the country’s alliance with Washington, tacitly acknowledging that they erred in their response to the attack on the United States Embassy by seeking to first appease anti-American domestic opinion without offering a robust condemnation of the violence.
The Times, Sept. 22nd
Mr. Morsi, who will travel to New York on Sunday for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, arrives at a delicate moment. He faces political pressure at home to prove his independence, but demands from the West for reassurance that Egypt under Islamist rule will remain a stable partner.

Mr. Morsi, 61, whose office was still adorned with nautical paintings that Mr. Mubarak left behind, said the United States should not expect Egypt to live by its rules.

“If you want to judge the performance of the Egyptian people by the standards of German or Chinese or American culture, then there is no room for judgment,” he said. “When the Egyptians decide something, probably it is not appropriate for the U.S. When the Americans decide something, this, of course, is not appropriate for Egypt.”

He suggested that Egypt would not be hostile to the West, but would not be as compliant as Mr. Mubarak either.

“Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region,” he said, by backing dictatorial governments over popular opposition and supporting Israel over the Palestinians.

He initially sought to meet with President Obama at the White House during his visit this week, but he received a cool reception, aides to both presidents said. Mindful of the complicated election-year politics of a visit with Egypt’s Islamist leader, Mr. Morsi dropped his request.

His silence in the immediate aftermath of the embassy protest elicited a tense telephone call from Mr. Obama, who also told a television interviewer that at that moment he did not consider Egypt an ally, if not an enemy either. When asked if he considered the United States an ally, Mr. Morsi answered in English, “That depends on your definition of ally,” smiling at his deliberate echo of Mr. Obama. But he said he envisioned the two nations as “real friends.”
continuing from the previous post

The difference between self-importance and seriousness; between self-consciousness and self-awareness; between trying to make something for a popular or an educated audience and simply doing it; between the risks of taking too much for granted and not enough, regarding yourself or your audience.

Film historians don't condescend to Chaplin or Hawks as opposed to Eisenstein and Godard, but theoreticians and practitioners of "fine art" are torn. It's similar to the history of racial divisions and influence in popular music, theater and sports.  But it's never simple. What is the difference between self-consciousness and self-awareness?  Who's to judge? Here's where things get really tricky.

Art Spiegelman called comic books "the bastard child of art and commerce" but he and everyone who repeats that phrase miss the point.   I quote Panofsky enough on all this. Most of the important art of the 20th century in any medium, is the bastard child of art and commerce.  It's the same damn essay but I don't repeat this quote as much.
While it is true that commercial art is always in danger of ending up as a prostitute, it is equally true that noncommercial art is always in danger of ending up as an old maid. Non commercial art has given us Seurat's "Grande Jatte" and Shakespeare's sonnets, but also much that is esoteric to the point of incommunicability. Conversely, commercial art has given us much that is vulgar or snobbish (two aspects of the same thing) to the point of loathsomeness, but also Durer's prints and Shakespeare's plays. For, we must not forget that Durer's prints were partly made on commission and partly intended to be sold in the open market; and that Shakespeare's plays -in contrast to the earlier masques and intermezzi which were produced at court by aristocratic amateurs and could afford to be so incomprehensible that even those who described them in printed monographs occasionally failed to grasp their intended significance- were meant to appeal, and did appeal, not only to the select few but also to everyone who was prepared to pay a shilling for admission.

It is this requirement of communicability that makes commercial art more vital than noncommercial, and therefore potentially much more effective for better or for worse.
"Serious people" now take comic books seriously; I don't.  I take animation seriously; I don't take video games seriously. These are longer arguments.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Video art" and "Gallery films".

Jesper Just at James Cohan. Neither of the videos are excerpted on line. Below are two earlier works.

Douglas Gordon at Gagosian

Richard Phillips also at Gagosian

The Phillips exhibition is an embarrassment and the films are the worst of it. The one above is one of two with Lindsay Lohan.  The second one is more complex but lists a "co-director" in the credits and was edited by Jay Rabinowitz.

Specific criticism of the Gordon installation would be that the timing of the videos should be staggered. The piece is architectural theater; the narrative is both rudimentary and a given. Since few people are going to sit through the whole thing -and since it wasn't made for  them to do it- the audience should be able to take in the process as a whole, to be able walk in and see the piano in all the stages of combustion.

Just's This Nameless Spectacle is called a "two-channel" video, a standard trope. Gordon's work is called alternately a "three screen video installation" or a "film installation".

This Nameless Spectacle works architecturally and theatrically because we're placed literally between the protagonists, since the two films of the same events are projected on opposite walls. The film in the show, like the others shown above, are "single-channel": they're films projected for a standing audience.

All the above are or are claimed to be products of the linguistic and social context of "fine art".  Over the past 20 years this has come to mean works most often are projected in large scale in darkened rooms without seating. As an extension of earlier "video art", the relations of images and objects, people and things take precedence.  In their beginnings "video art" and "performance art" were descriptions of theater in the language of painting and sculpture.  As in what became known as "post-modern" dance, actions and gestures were prosaic; choreographers eschewed the self-consciously poetic as previously they'd eschewed narrative.  Often this was less narrative than the idea of narrative: a record of motion from point A to point B; the most famous example in dance is Yvonne Rainer's Trio A.  Warhol's films are another prime example, but like Rainer's most famous piece they're more than what was claimed for them at the time, in Rainer's case by Rainer herself. The larger piece of which Trio A is a part carries its ideology in its title. If the mind is a muscle, then craft can be replaced by reason. Rainer's later career as an artist and filmmaker for a small but very serious audience is almost archetypical for late modernist romance with technocracy, but Trio A itself as performed by Rainer is consistently engaging as performance. Try as she might she couldn't unlearn her training as a dancer.

Other works from the period used narrative with what was considered ironic detachment, either through montage that undermined the narrative or by the simple gesture equivalent of looking behind the curtain: turning a CRT monitor on its side, the result being "video sculpture". Narrative crept back obliquely into object making proper and that was attacked by Michael Fried,  a protege of Greenberg, in his essay Art and Objecthood not even for the result being an immature art but absurdly and predictably for it being literally wrong. Greenberg by this time was defending formalist kitsch, while Nam June Paik owed a lot to Ernie Kovacs. There's a book in that one sentence.

You can watch a sample of Trio A at Video Data Bank. Here's the link to the collection of early video art at the same source. Look at the pricing below each video, and pay attention to the tags. The language of high seriousness, and often of high politics, and the opposite of open data.

In the context of Modernism in "art" what wasn't poetic was considered less prosaic than banal. In the beginnings of the return to narrative any reference to time was felt to be enough to do the job, to piss-off the old man. But now art galleries have become "art houses" showing "art films" that outdo the venues and films those phrases once referred to. From awkward forms and awkward narratives, now everything's poeticized. The secret's that it always was. It's not the the older work wasn't artsy, but that artsiness has gotten slicker. "Art" has gone from one kind of snobbery to another.
That's not to say that none of the above is any good, but that much of it is oversold, always by the marketing and often in the work itself. And again, the Richard Phillips show is a joke.
[continued here]

For more on the permutations of language and "sculpture" start here. Working back more slowly start here. Or see "The Pictures Generation" and the follow-up.

Pierre Huyghe
Rirkrit Tiravanija and Christian Marclay
Huyghe and Steve McQueen

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Intellectualism is public by definition. There are no "private intellectuals". There are private scholars, but intellectualism denotes not just scholarship but engagement with the world. The public intellectual is a redundancy invented in America and the American university, denoting a Moses coming down from the mountain, either the mountain of Academia or the mountain of the isolato.

It’s an argument that King himself would probably wince at - he seems too much of a steak and potatoes guy to want to describe himself in such grandiose terms. Even so, I think the description fits. There’s a strong case to be made that his books and stories, taken as a whole, tell you more about the Matter of America than the work of any other living novelist. And they are not only deeply intelligent but politically intelligent. If you want to know what the US was really like under George W. Bush, you’ll probably find out more from reading Under the Dome (which is not even one of King’s best novels) than Ill Fares the Land. The ease with which a slick rightwing populism can slide into something approaching fascism. The ways in which community loyalties can sour politics or redeem them. The intertwining of politics and petty personal jealousies. King gets it all. He has both an understanding of American life that Judt (for his many intellectual gifts) lacked, and the ability to express that understanding in clear, unornamented prose that can speak to millions of people.
"The Matter of America" links to a Shalizi reading and viewing list. It's culture for quants.
If King is a better writer than some give him credit for it's only because he's transcended the culture that Farrell and Shalizi are a part of.

The 4th comment links to Dylan Riley, which is something at least. I get a lot of hits for that link, which doesn't say much for its popularity.  Judt was a moral conservative, a liberal only in context.

Farrell defending democracy, above
[Judt's] disdain for popular communication goes together with a version of social democracy that emphasizes the ‘social’ at the expense of ‘democracy.’
And in the past
I’ve suggested that academic freedom is a good thing on pragmatic grounds, but also made clear that it fundamentally depends on public willingness to delegate some degree of self-governance to the academy. If the public decides that academic freedom isn’t working out in terms of the goods it provides, then too bad for academic freedom.
Farrell doesn't understand democracy; he doesn't understand culture, let alone intellectual culture.

Individuals, society, the state: they are three different things.
Plus ça change,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sabra and Shatila, and the U.S. A Preventable Massacre
It would be nice to think the last paragraph in the piece was inserted by the editor.

Pope of the Jews
On Meet the Press, dancing dave informed the PM of Israel that he was the leader of the Jewish people. I am not sure who should find this to be the most offensively stupid.
I shouldn't continue to be amazed at the number of people who think "the Jewish people" refers to religion and not ethnicity; the relations are conflated in Israel and historically by Jews, in a mixture of personal confusion and political expediency. But Israel was founded by non-believers as a secular state, and the parallel to calling Netanyahu the leader of "the Jewish People” would be to call the Prime Minister of Italy the leader of the Italian people, from Rome to Brooklyn and Buenos Aires.
To top it off,  the Pope is  German.

If Josh Marshall really wanted to separate Israelis from Judaism, or Jewishness, he wouldn't be a defender of the Jewish State.
Should have done this earlier.

Glenn Greenwald: US media angrily marvels at the lack of Muslim gratitude

Bassam Haddad: "Was the Arab Spring Really Worth It?": The Fascinating Arrogance of Power
"After nearly one hundred thousand deaths since January 2011 when the uprisings started"
Helena Cobban calls him on this in the comments .

From Issandr El Amrani at Arabist

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A repeat, but appropriate.

Reading Steinberg's "The Philosophical Brothel."

Still surprised by the filters used by modern/modernist intellectuals to interpret the preoccupations of themselves and their compatriots. As with Eliot, the theme is not "form" but a fear of the power of representation and of what will be represented if representation is allowed its full weight. And it is allowed that weight here as in Eliot's poetry. That's the greatness and the terror. The painting first and foremost is if not a castration scene then a description of the terror that the act or worse may be in the offing, with the painter/viewer as the victim. Talk of form and formalism was an absurd cover, as absurd as any talk of "advancement" in the arts; and even those who eschew formalist arguments to this day argue from pretensions of progress.

The importance of Les Demoiselles D'Avignon is less that it marks the beginning of Cubism than that it marks the high point. The work after it slides downhill -first gradually, later quickly- away from representation towards formalism, the "meaning" of ideas, and the logic of intention.
...the three central figures address the observer with unsparing directness. Neither active nor passive, they are simply alerted, responding to an alerting attentiveness on our side.
5 lines later
The Picture is a tidal wave of female aggression, one either experiences the Demoiselles as an onslaught, or shuts it off.
It's less that all these terms are mutually exclusive than that Steinberg is still coming to terms with them.

The sharpest melon slice in the history of art.
[Below, published a couple of days later 1/29/10, and forgotten. It makes more sense to join them.]

More, because I'm still reading, and it's apropos: the intellectual's unawareness, méconnaissance, of sexuality, their own and others. He spends a lot of time arguing that the central figure in the painting is in an ambiguous position: upright signaling recumbence. And he worries that he may be wrong.

Recumbency, passivity and objecthood. Posing, presentation and gender roles. Googling the phrase "her arms framing her face" got 8 hits. "Her arms frame her face" got 547. And on... The aggression was new, recumbence and mockery, in 1906.

Also of course, earlier, recumbence and boredom, Manet, and for Picasso, Duchamp.

The flow of my lecture was interrupted once by “Professor, your son has a paper-clip in his mouth"…
That's a problem. Including the idiot student journalists' cell phone numbers is a problem.
[update: they were public contact numbers on the paper's website.]

The link to Langauge Log was brilliant timing.
It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person's right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.
I don't think that the Greek rhetoricians had a word for the juxtaposition of disparate styles represented by passages like "not only are you violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain". It's reminiscent of Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of heteroglossia, as explained in his essay "Discourse in the Novel":
The internal stratification of any single national language into social dialects, characteristic group behavior, professional jargons, generic languages, languages of generations and age groups, tendentious languages, languages of the authorities, of various circles and of passing fashions, languages that serve the specific sociopolitical purposes of the day, […] — this internal stratification present in every language at any given moment of its historical existence is the indispensable prerequisite for the novel as a genre.
It's not reminiscent it's exemplary. And it brings us back to oratory and politics as practice before theory. That a professional athlete could do it better than a college professor helps to explain why comedians are more serious than journalists.

All repeats. I'm done.

Friday, September 14, 2012

plus c'est la même chose

Tedra Osell makes the arguments of David Brooks (and National Right to Life)
God... forbid anyone, anywhere should ever have to “involuntarily” do anything.

...In every single instance we are arguing over control. Children are a problem in a world that insists on autonomy and self-determination, because children compromise one’s autonomy and change one’s life path.

I submit that a society in which children are a problem is a society that is deeply inhumane.
update: I didn't read beyond the post. Osell in response to a question
The rhetoric for abortion rights in an American context (or probably in the context of most industrialized countries) depends on the language of autonomy and self-determination, yes—in part because autonomy and self-determination are so central to the culture.
I would assert, however, that the “right” to abortion stems from the simple fact that abortion is possible and that women with unwanted pregnancies will—and have, throughout history—abort those pregnancies. The argument is therefore not about the right to an abortion so much as it is about whether or not women will have access to safe, legal medical abortion or whether they will be left to their own devices.
Judging by the post itself I'd written that she'd described change "unknowingly". She just articulated it very well. And again, (less fortunately)
indian 09.14.12 at 2:58 am
Why do feminists feel the need to speak like steretypical prole men in discussing such topics? E.g., “pisses me off” from the OP or “fuck that shit” from the quoted material. It’s almost like they valorize traditional maleness? Anyway, I find it hopelessly middle-class in origin. Elite women or prole women do not act like prole men, sorry. I know this even better as a bit of an outsider to Western culture.

Tedra Osell 09.14.12 at 3:19 am
I am middle class. I don’t see why that’s “hopeless.”

As to whether I swear because I valorize traditional maleness: no, not that I’m aware of. I swear because I find doing so (1) an effective way of demonstrating emotion; I not only have an opinion on this topic, I also have strong feelings; (2) rhetorically desirable.

Also, I don’t know that it’s true that prole/working-class women don’t swear. Certainly working-class women who are concerned with being respectable don’t, but plenty of working class women do.

Am I to infer that you think swearing is something I ought not to do? And if so, why?
The Urban dictionary definitions for Prole. I like the first one.
From "proletarian" meaning wage-earner or worker. The shortened version being a derogatory term used by the middle and upper classes to deride the working class majority.
Oh Tarquin, look at those wretched proles. Set the hounds on them.
And Osell's vulgarity is mannerism not manner. It's a pose, as she admits.
One partial explanation might also be that I (again, can’t speak for Belle) do, in fact, cultivate a somewhat aggressive persona (although actually I have used this very little on this blog) as a compensatory mechanism for imposter syndrome, which is a pretty common problem for high-achieving, ambitious American women, I understand. I believe it is supposed to have something to do with anxiety engendered by the dual imperative to be “good” in the sense of “achieve, do well in school, be successful at work” and “good” in the sense of “be nice, don’t challenge authority, don’t stand out.”
A pose is a pretension, a sign of weakness, which is how it reads. The problem isn't that it's acting, but that it's bad acting.  Commenter etv13 posts a link to a discussion of Univocal Heteroglossia at Language Log.  She posts it as an aside, and Language Log isn't known for literary criticism, but Chris Kluwe does a better job of it than Ossell.

A.O. Scott reviews The Master.
More showman than shaman — he holds his followers in thrall with jokes, dinner-table toasts and bawdy songs — Dodd is so adept at the performance of sincerity that he may long ago have fooled himself into believing the bizarre doctrines he seems to pull out of thin air. “The Master,” meanwhile, is rigorously agnostic about his methods and intentions, refusing the temptations of satire and gazing fondly at Dodd’s follies even as it notes the brutal way he and his acolytes deal with doubters and heretics. This semi-sympathetic stance makes sense, since the film, a glorious and haunting symphony of color, emotion and sound, is very much its own Cause.

Our minds sometimes play tricks on us, substituting invention for memory. Movies turn this lapse into a principle, manufacturing collective fantasies that are often more vivid, more real, than what actually happened. “The Master,” unfolding in the anxious, movie-saturated years just after World War II, is not a work of history in the literal or even the conventionally literary sense. The strange and complicated story it has to tell exists beyond the reach of doubt or verification. The cumulative artifice on display is beautiful — camera movements that elicit an involuntary gasp, passages in Jonny Greenwood’s score that raise the hair on the back of your neck, feats of acting that defy comprehension — but all of it has been marshaled in the pursuit of a new kind of cinematic truth. This is a movie that defies understanding even as it compels reverent, astonished belief.
Duncan Black, September 2012
Dear PR People
Occasional, if futile, reminder that I'm actually not really interested in most popular nonfiction books. I'd be much more likely to read and comment on fiction. Also, too, TV and movie screeners.
Duncan Black, March 2010
What The Hell's A Research Paper
I think a major consequence of the lack of reading non-fiction other than textbooks is that when in late high school or college teachers want research paper type things, the students have a lot of trouble largely because they've never read any. They aren't familiar with the basic model. This gets interpreted as "they don't know how to write," which I guess is somewhat true, but they don't know how to write in a particular style because they have spent so little time reading that particular style.

Obviously this is good enough for a blog post, and not "I am an education expert," but I do, at least, have experience teaching at the college level….
Ossell's stumbling charts the move away from individualist idealism just as it charts the return of the open acceptance of class, but her response isn't enough to resolve the problems of abortion.  Abortion is not downloading, another activity that's to often defended as moral rather than simply acknowledged as ubiquitous.  Questions of the viability of human life are not as simple as questions relating to the quantity or definition of data, even if they have to be treated the same way as  questions of law.
The strongest non-idealist defense of abortion rights follows another logic
We need a new generation of technocrats who understand that democracy is procedural not ideational. We don't need better, smarter, masters of the universe, we need a more educated populace and scholars with a sense of irony. We need fewer philosophers and more historians. We need a return to the understanding that greed is inevitable, but that's its a weakness, and that democracies have freedom of speech not because governments grant it but because the government is not granted the power to take it away. Technocrats as fantasists of their own power have everything backwards.
It's less a question of whether women should have a right to abortion than under what circumstance we should allow the government to interfere. Osell makes the argument for social ubiquity but not society.

The world as we experience it is messy; law is not. Once you accept the distinction hard questions become easier. All governments that would claim to be based on the world beyond experience will be based on bigger fictions than those that are the basis of democracy.

Technocrats recognize governments and individuals, but not society, since it can't be quantified. Like Donald Davidson's rejection of the conceptual scheme [always, for simplicity, quoting Simon Blackburn],"arguing that where the possibility of translation stops so does the coherence of the idea that there is something to translate”, society like the subtleties of Proust in french, or Jabberwocky in english, "n'existe pas!" Thatcher is claimed to have made that argument, but didn't. She paid lip service to "a living tapestry" while doing her best to shred it.

For technocrats, rules are primary, people are secondary. Rules are something we have in common, but only as the lowest common denominator. Focusing on the mean puts downward pressure on the mean. Studying only the ubiquity of mediocrity, it spreads.

A society of laws can produce the image below, but laws cannot define the implications. Laws in a republic cannot be used to oppose fascism in its infancy, as sensibility and idea; it is an aggregate and can only be opposed by an aggregate. Democracy is the rule of amateurs governed by laws, not the rule of experts governed by their own sense of reason. We need an educated populace; the former "Bitch PhD" should give up on home schooling her own child and get a job teaching high school, preferably the children of proles. I think maybe Adrienne Pine would agree.

Client States

The Paper of Record
CAIRO — Following a blunt phone call from President Obama, Egyptian leaders scrambled Thursday to try to repair the country’s alliance with Washington, tacitly acknowledging that they erred in their response to the attack on the United States Embassy by seeking to first appease anti-American domestic opinion without offering a robust condemnation of the violence.
see previous post.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday strongly denounced the mysterious anti-Muslim film tied to protests and deadly attacks on American diplomatic compounds. But she reiterated that America will not tolerate limits on its free speech — and challenged leaders in the Muslim world to immediately denounce violence in response.

...“I know it is hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day,” she said. “Now, I would note that in today’s world with today’s technologies that is impossible. But even if it were possible, our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our Constitution and in our law. We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be.”
The right to freedom of speech exists only under a system of rights. We don't support a system of rights in our client states; we actively support the opposite. If our clients had systems of rights they wouldn't be our clients.

In a globalized world the contradictions of power and freedom are made more and more obvious. For liberalism, as such, there's no difference between a Yemeni and an American, but legally they're separate. It's becoming harder for American liberals to ignore that their home state liberalism is predicated on the international political realism of a hegemon.

We're reliving the crises of the 19th century on a larger scale.

Much of modern intellectual life, and all of it that could be called Modernist (the best and worst), has been built by indulging "the intentional fallacy". [Only the phrase is recent, and one gets the sense it was  coined as a way to help the coiners declare themselves both above the fray and exceptions to the rule.]   
Claims of superior self-awareness have been used as a bludgeon; the model is endless oneupmanship. Even the study of history has been used to argue for exceptionalism, either of a state or of the present, of Modernism and “The Modern Project”.  What's amazed me more than anything as I've looked back is how often the empiricism central to art and to all communicative acts has been ignored in service to the desire for some sort of objective “truth”, even artistic or poetic truth, whatever that would mean.

The arts, engaging the language and forms of a society at any given time, are synecdochic for society. Reading Linda Nochlin on 19th Century French Orientalism, on Gerome and other artists of the Paris Salon, it was impossible not to see the parallel to Clem Greenberg’s claims to linguistic transparency and reason. Impressionism is best described as demanding no more than honesty as opposed to the hypocrisy of Salon culture, but the later claims of Modernism defend something closer to what Baudelaire called “philosophic” art, ending in Greenberg’s blank Apollonianism, and beyond that in other equally rationalized assumption of artistic or political value.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A British Minister will lead a major sales drive by UK weapons and military technology firms at an exhibition attended by high-ranking Iraqi military officials this week.
The news has sparked outrage among arms control campaigners and groups opposed to military action against Iraq. 'It is absurd that we are gearing up to fight a war against these people and simultaneously rubbing shoulders with them at an arms bazaar,' said Martin Hogbin of the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Around a dozen British firms will be displaying equipment such as tanks, thermal imaging night sights and state-of-the-art air defence missiles at the exhibition in Amman, Jordan. Machine tools that could be used to produce weapons will also be on show. The government-run Defence Export Services Organisation will also have a stall.

Promotional material for the Sofex military fair boasts that Saddam Hussein is sending an official delegation. Sultan Hashim Ahmad, the Iraqi Defence Minister, attended the last Sofex. Sudan, Syria, Libya and Iran - all listed as sponsors of terrorism by the US State Department - are also expected to attend.

'It's an appalling example of double standards. Where there is a buck to be made, we're there,' said Andrew Bergen, spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition, which campaigns against military action against Iraq.

In the Eighties the UK and US supplied Iraq with millions of pounds' worth of military equipment. Baghdad used British companies to procure 'dual-use' machine tools to make ammunition. Even though the UK had imposed an embargo on 'lethal equipment', the Conservative Government let the sales proceed.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed last week that Lord Bach, the Defence Procurement Minister, would be attending the fair. 'Sofex allows the UK defence industry to demonstrate its product range to a number of potential overseas customers very effectively,' said an MoD spokesman.

The Last Man

Journey From the Center of the Earth

Gifs made from screen grabs of the live cam in the mine.
From 2002

Monday, September 10, 2012


On the one hand, in the US as elsewhere, higher incomes are correlated with voting for the conservative/rightwing party, which seems to cut against the thesis. On the other hand, I’ve read that the average income of the US working class is the same as that of the population as a whole, which goes against the whole idea of “working class” as I understand it.
It's not only how much money you make, it's how you make your money.
What an asshole. What a fucking idiot.

[I]n 1867 Congress passed a law providing relief for “freedmen or destitute colored people in the District of Columbia,” to be distributed under the auspices of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Of particular importance in the late 1860s was the Bureau’s operation of schools for blacks, to the point that black children in the South were often better educated than their white counterparts. Opponents, including Johnson, raised the same arguments that would be marshaled against affirmative action programs a century later, but well more than the necessary two-thirds of Congress concluded that the 13th and 14th Amendments authorized race-conscious legislation to ameliorate the social condition of blacks.
"to the point that black children in the South were often better educated than their white counterparts."

The road to hell.

repeat: Doormen
[D]oormen generally don’t have racist beliefs, but because their tenants are disproportionately white, and white people tend to have many more white than black friends, black visitors to the building will be checked or questioned more often than white visitors.

...All in all, well worth your time to read. Especially if you need to give your Doorman a bonus in the near future.
I missed the first quote the first time around (in 2005), even if I tried to explain the issue to Kieran Healy and the rest.
This is Healy more recently.

"...All in all, well worth your time to read. Especially if you need to give your Doorman a bonus in the near future."

If "doormen generally don’t have racist beliefs" regarding blacks, then generally they themselves are white, in a city where 56% of the population is not.

I never read the book but I looked through the index; I thought I'd mentioned that somewhere at the time. There's no reference to the stark differences in ethnic makeup of doormen on the the upper east and upper west side. As I explained in a comment, on the east side doormen are white, Irish or Eastern European. On the west side it's more of a mix. This is common knowledge to anyone who works in or around residential buildings in Manhattan.

From Publishers Weekly
[Bearman] tends to spend too much time examining the obvious questions (e.g., why do doormen find their jobs at once "boring and stressful"?), while barely touching upon others that seem deeper and more fertile, such as the ways in which tenants tend to see their doormen as "socially dead."
Tenants and college professors.
I really thought I'd mentioned all of this but can't find it.

A good definition of the working class now is the subset of the community that technocrats and intellectuals never meet on social terms. A plumber who makes $150,000 a year is closer socially to a plumber's assistant than to a college professor. These assholes read that dumbfuck Bourdieu but still don't get the point.

There's only one use of the term "petty bourgeois" by any of the authors at Crooked Timber, though it defined Thatcherism: the end of noblesse oblige (though 30 years later it's come back).

Liberal professionals claim concern for the poor and disenfranchised, though without intimate contact concern devolves quickly into pity or its functional equivalent.  For the strivers just below themselves, or even above them financially,  the professionals show open contempt. That contempt is returned. Which came first?

From 2004:
This is a modern world - This is the modern world
What kind of a fool do you think I am?
You think I know nothing of the modern world
All my life has been the same
I've learned to live by hate and pain
It's my inspiration drive -
I've learned more than you'll ever know
Even at school I felt quite sure
That one day I would be on top
And I'd look down upon the map
The teachers who said I'd be nothing

Punk wasn't a rebellion against capitalism. It was capitalism, rebelling against both liberalism and the hereditary aristocracy.
5th Ave. 2005
"Whites out the front, Niggers to the basement."
I'm in the elevator with the electricians: two Puerto Ricans and a Pole.
"So how do you get out?"
The Russian pauses.
"I'm Superman, I leave from the roof."


addendum years later. Earnest liberals are now concerned about minorities and "microaggressions".  It's applied within the middle class: the bourgeoisie redefining itself. The same behavior towards the working class majority goes unnoticed. Piketty's graph amused me. We're well beyond the idiot petty bourgeois Bourdieu, but they still don't get the point.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Jeff Wall: [Referring to Delacroix] Violence is only a theme in this kind of art; the art itself isn’t violent. That makes it very different from, even opposed to, the art of the avant-garde, which expresses aggression against the idea of art itself. This aggression is no longer viable. I don’t think it's necessary or possible to go beyond the idea of bourgeois art—that is of autonomous art—towards a fusion of art and its context. Or if its possible it isn’t very desirable. We have learned how the aggression against autonomous art was consistent with aspects of totalitarianism, from the Stalinist period for example, and how state violence could benefit from that kind of aesthetic. The concept of art as autonomous, and therefore less amenable to that kind of instrumentalization, is a central concern of the modern, and I’m most sympathetic to that.

A-MB/RM: Modernity and avant-garde, to you, are two separate things?

JW: We can’t confuse them anymore. Essays and Interviews
For art as for politics.
Modernism was the fantasy of writing with the assumption that from then on there would be only reading with and no reading against. To read tale against teller or to read against the grain would be gross error. Rebellion against this has always taken the form of the rebellion of youth against their parents, with the more sympathetic elders caught in the middle, trying to justify the revolt while trying to make it fit with what they know and what they are. So we get the obscurantist poeticizing of Derrida -the philosopher magistrate as wise old fool- and the blandness of Rorty and Nussbaum, struggling to find a way beyond technocracy while being mocked for the attempt by professional technocrats and lionized by amateur enthusiasts. The model of the Continental philosopher was as Pope and Antipope combined, a philosophical self that could contain an other, in a sense obviating the need for actual democracy. And now that Continental and Anglo-American philosophy are joining out of necessity and the need for survival, we see parallels in Bruno Latour's Collective and David Chalmers' Extended Mind.
The modernism of revolution vs the modernism of technocracy; the fascism of romance vs the fascism of reality. Wall is referring to the avant-garde of early Dada and Surrealism, not of Soviet economic policy and the Bauhaus.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

We'll see how long it stays up
CT, 2008. "Veil of ignorance"
Thinking about it recently I realized I'd never linked to it.

More typos but other than that, again, no regrets.

Knowing that as time goes by they grow more and more embarrassed by this: priceless.

repeats, of repeats.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Two discussion of faith.
My students, however, did not become Maimonideans. Modern Orthodox Jews often revere Maimonides as a model for reconciling Torah (or revelation) and madda (reason). My Hasidic students don't buy it. All attempts to integrate secular life and Jewish tradition ultimately ring false to them. In a sense they keep Torah and the secular world as strictly apart as their rabbis do; they have just switched allegiances. Moshe tells me about a Lubavitcher friend who led a double life for years. "During the day he was a brilliant Talmud teacher, during the night he explored Manhattan's culture and art scene. Then he became Modern Orthodox and started teaching in a more liberal Yeshiva. But he still doesn't believe in any of it."

They have a good laugh when I tell them about the Yom Kippur sermon I heard in Princeton's conservative synagogue. The female rabbi argued that there was no contradiction between obeying God and personal autonomy. The mitzvot must convince us that observing them is beneficial for us. ("If you want a day off from email, cell phone, and other disturbances—keep Shabbat!") What God tells us to do coincides with what we really want to do. "Let's hear how good a case a piece of bacon can make for kashrus," Isaac jokes. When I say that I have no qualms about circumcising my son, Abraham is surprised: "Why would you do such a thing if you don't believe in the bris shel Avraham (Abrahamic covenant)?"

They also doubt that Maimonides truly believed he had bridged the gap. "Did he really think that Moses was a great philosopher?" Isaac asks. "Wasn't he just bluffing to escape the anger of the masses?" They are more attracted to Spinoza. Jacob mentions an old Hebrew book on Spinoza's life and thought by Hillel Zeitlin, a Jewish writer and intellectual who was raised in Lubavitch and strongly identified with Spinoza after losing his childhood faith. In the last chapter, Zeitlin claims that central ideas in Spinoza can also be found in Maimonides and other Jewish thinkers. "But Spinoza was more honest than Maimonides," Jacob says. "He didn't pretend that his views fit with traditional Judaism. That's why he was excommunicated."
Dear Professor Coyne,
First, I am curious whether you take yourself to be relying on some combination of the ad hominem fallacy and the guilt by association fallacy every time you mention that Nahmias has received funding from the Templeton Foundation. It would make more sense, from the standpoint of both logic and professionalism, just to attack Nahmias’s arguments rather than trying to impugn his motives. If you think that the source of Nahmias’s funding is relevant to the discussion then I, for one, would really like to hear precisely why.

Second and relatedly, it’s worth pointing out that your claim that it’s unsurprising that the Templeton Foundation supports researchers who lobby for compatibilism is…well, surprising. After all, your own argument is crucially based on the empirical claim that the folk concept of free will is incompatibilist, dualist, etc.–a view which you suggest is driven by the Christian world view (i.e., the official view of the Templeton Foundation). But then wouldn’t the Templeton Foundation be fishing for evidence for dualism, incompatibilism, etc.? If so, why would they give $4 million in funding to a group of researchers who are predominantly either compatibilists (like Nahmias) or free will skeptics (like me, Haggard, Wheatley, and others)? If your Templeton conspiracy theory were true, one would expect fewer compatibilists and skeptics and more libertarians. Of course, once we look at the actual views of the folks who got funding through Mele’s BQFW, it revels what’s wrong with the way you try to use Nahmias’s funding to undermine his views–which is presumably why you didn’t bother to either look at or mention these details.

As a free will skeptic and atheist who (a) has frequently collaborated with Nahmias, and (b) happens to also currently be funded by Templeton through Mele’s BQFW Project, I think it’s quite clear that your argumentative strategy is dependent upon on a number of questionable assumptions both about Nahmias’s motives and the way BQFW funding was dispensed. And I have just finished writing a book chapter that criticizes both Mele and Nahmias and presents some new evidence that partly supports your claims about folk dualism and libertarianism. So, it’s not like I am just towing the line for Jesus, the Templeton Foundation, Nahmias, compatibilists, or anyone else. But the thinly veiled strategy of character assassination that you adopt in this piece–whereby Nahmias is dismissed as a Templeton Foundation shill for compatibilist free will (see above for why this doesn’t make much sense)–is distasteful and distracting.
Social life is politics.  Success (a philosopher might say "flourishing") occurs when people engage each other both through principles and a flexible relation to those principles,  admitting loyalty to their commitments while allowing a sympathetic understanding of those who don't share them, with the willingness to see adversaries as partners in an ongoing relation.   The relations among individuals within the group will model the relations of those within to those outside.

There's more serious discussion of the world and more irony regarding faith in the first three paragraphs above than in the last.  The world the first paragraphs describe is preferable, socially, politically, philosophically, esthetically etc.  I agree with Coyne, to the degree that agreement is possible in the deterministic world,  except  -following the same caveat- for the stupidity of his preaching. He's invested in  the "truth" of evolution as others are invested in the "truth" that once lay at the top of Mt Everest and is now apparently on Mars.  The only two things at either place, now or ever, are rocks and a view.  And creationists are as prone to taking penicillin as atheist GPs are to overprescribe.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

“A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags.”

From AA
The Telegraph: "America's key allies in Middle East invite Iran to Syria talks."

Never got around linking to this. Same story
Brig. General Sedky Sobhy Egyptian Army 
Professor Douglas Lovelace Project Adviser 
This SRP is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of Strategic Studies Degree. The U.S. Army War College is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, (215) 662-5606. The Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The views expressed inthis student academic research paper are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
U.S. Army War College
The U.S. military presence in the Middle East has assumed a great strategic role in the affairs of that geopolitical region. The permanent presence of U.S. military forces inthe Middle East has created a new set of parameters for future U.S. strategy inthe Middle East region and specifically in the region of the Arabian/Persian Gulf. This SRP examines some of the U.S. national security interests and policies that have established a permanent military presence in the Middle East and the interactions and consequences of its existence inthat region. This SRP recommends the permanent withdrawal of U.S. military forces from the Middle East and the Gulf, and the pursuit of U.S. strategic goals in the region through socioeconomic means and the impartial application of international law.

Philip Weiss
Last night was an amazing moment at the Democratic National Convention; for an instant, we saw the Israel lobby naked on the national stage. When party bosses stuffed the phrase, "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel," back into the platform, reportedly at the command of the president himself, and the Democratic rank-and-file on the floor bridled at the command and booed, and even the convention chair, Mayor Villaraigosa, looked to be following orders, the curtain was pulled back on the wizard of Oz-- to use the great conspiratorial figure of a previous American century-- and the press and the informed public were left to discuss what we had all just seen.
more with links.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Black man, black woman, black baby
White man, white woman, white baby
White man, black woman, black baby
Black man, white woman, black baby
Fear of a black planet
"He got his Visionz from our visions"

My language holds up pretty well.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


American Tragedy.
Obama "Thinks like a Jew" because he's not quite white, in a white man's world. Jews are the highest of high yella.
Well Okay Then
The phrases they reach for.
Barbour offered a brief assessment of the Republican National Convention. “While I would love for [Chris] Christie to put a hot poker to Obama’s butt,” said Barbour of the RNC keynote speaker, “I thought he did what he was supposed to do.”
The difference between Duncan Black and Karl Rove is that Black was the smart fat kid who made fun of the kool kids who led the majority, but he stayed on the sidelines feeling superior, while Rove walked out into the playground knowing what he wanted to do. And Carville wasn't fat he was just ugly.

The advantage Republicans have over democrats is that they proclaim loudly and simultaneous the two poles of the American paradox: home and hearth and adventuring; stability and instability; family values and creative destruction. They lie about the first but that doesn't matter.
repeats of repeats of repeats of repeats:
"Rilly, I had no idea"
"What has happened politically, economically, culturally and socially since the sea change of the late ’60s isn’t contradictory or incongruous. It’s all of a piece. For hippies and bohemians as for businesspeople and investors, extreme individualism has been triumphant. Selfishness won."

"Perhaps more than an ambiguity, it was an irony of history. The real legacy of May ’68, as we see in France today, is individualism, the rejection of civic sense and ideology, the rehabilitation of the idea that personal and financial success is a worthy pursuit — in short, a revival of capitalism. To borrow an expression of Lenin’s, we were useful idiots. Indeed, the uprising was more a counterrevolution than a revolution."
Interesting to read one against the other. Anderson refers almost entirely to the hippies, the middle class rebels. Guillebaud obviously has no option but to talk about both students and workers. Anderson puts "black president" and "multiculturalism" as two of the changes, but says nothing about class divisions within what he would call liberalism and the "left".

It was the strike, not the student revolt, that truly paralyzed the country for three long weeks. The paradox is that these two movements never encountered each other. The students marching toward the factories to “meet the workers” found the doors closed. The unions didn’t want them: the workers found the students disorganized and irresponsible.
And the civil rights movement was the organized rebellion of lower middle class blacks.

But what the left and right respectively love and hate are mostly flip sides of the same libertarian coin minted around 1967.

...In that letter from 1814, Jefferson wrote that our tendencies toward selfishness where liberty and our pursuit of happiness lead us require “correctives which are supplied by education” and by “the moralist, the preacher, and legislator.”

On this Independence Day, I’m doing my small preacherly bit.
And I'm going to reread D.H. Lawrence on Benjamin Franklin.
As democrats or "liberals" have gotten better at admitting their own weakness and moral failures, as they begin to feel more comfortable in their own skins, and with their own money, they've become better politicians.
Continuing from here, commenting on a post bemoaning "Eisenhower Democrats" and repeating the three quotes I use too often.
”After the latest 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.
All forced population transfers are humanitarian disasters, of course, but so is the current situation. It’s not like there’s not any room in the whole Arab world for all these Palestinian Arabs to go live in, it’s just that the other Arab leaders don’t want to cooperate.”

”David Duke, president of Americans in Support of Palestinian Freedom…”

”You 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.”

The first quote above is Matthew Yglesias. The second is Duncan Black. The third is Brad DeLong.  It interests me that I doubt Rachel Maddow, or Jon Stewart would say anything in public quite as offensive as those three quotes.
All the quotes are available. Use google.