Saturday, April 25, 2009

According to our media elites, the looters are once again relevant

Just remember that the IMF has been raiding the treasuries of the nations comprising the Global South for decades - one of many sour legacies of the Second Gilded Age brought about by orthodox Friedmanism (aka neoliberalism). This time around, I suspect, the IMF has in mind looting the whole bloody planet. Contra the corporate controlled media, these usurers are not about to rescue much of anything but their chokehold on economic power.

Wherein I play the world's smallest violin

Apparently Bybee's feeling a few twinges of regret:
The Washington Post interviews a number of friends and colleagues of Jay Bybee, who anonymously tell the paper that the judge regrets writing the torture memos:

"I've heard him express regret at the contents of the memo," said a fellow legal scholar and longtime friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity while offering remarks that might appear as "piling on." "I've heard him express regret that the memo was misused. I've heard him express regret at the lack of context -- of the enormous pressure and the enormous time pressure that he was under. And anyone would have regrets simply because of the notoriety."

"On the primary memo, that legitimated and defined torture, he just felt it got away from him," said the scholar. "I got the impression that he was not pleased with that bit of scholarship," said an associate who asked not be identified sharing private conversations. "I don't know that he 'owned it.' ... The way he put it was: He was head of the OLC, and it was written, and he was not pleased with it."

Boo fucking hoo. If the regrets be genuine, he should turn himself in to the Spanish authorities at once.

By the way, I find comparisons to Eichmann to be quite appropriate in Bybee's case. Shame on WaPo for trying to humanize these Little Eichmanns.

Learn something new every day

But who knew that Warhol, the pioneer of Pop Art, drew more than 50 album covers over the span of his career — and not just for rock, but for classical music, opera and jazz?


But it’s an obscure fact that this trajectory began with album covers. When Warhol came to New York in 1949, fresh out of art school, the long-playing record had just recently hit the marketplace. Warhol called the big labels, offering to illustrate their covers.

He won an assignment right away, from Columbia Records, for an LP called “A Program of Mexican Music.” His drawings, of ancient drummers and dancers, were crude, but already they anticipated signature aspects of his later works.

He copied the figures from 16th-century Aztec sketches that he found in a Museum of Modern Art catalog, a forerunner of his tendency to make art from existing images, like the Marilyn Monroe photos and Campbell’s Soup cans. And he used a technique known as “blotted-line” drawing, a basic form of printmaking that foretold his fascination with silk-screens.

These early covers “have pizazz and elegance and a sneaky linearity, like Cocteau with a movement disorder,” said Wayne Koestenbaum, the author of a Warhol biography. “The blotted line gives a jumpy and nervous and emotionally unstable rhythm to the otherwise coherent line, like a dry drunk.”

Warhol’s cover for the jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell’s self-titled debut album on the Blue Note label, in 1956, was a drawing based on a photograph, as were many of Warhol’s later portraits. It was stylized, exaggerating the curves of Mr. Burrell’s guitar, the vibrations of its strings and the strumming of his fingers.

“Already you see the sense of movement, the low-angle perspective that’s very much associated with film or photographs,” Mr. Maréchal said. It’s a precedent, he added, for Warhol’s move a decade later into photographing pop stars and making movies.

The following year, on another Blue Note album cover, the saxophonist Johnny Griffin’s “Congregation,” Warhol — again working from a photo — painted fragments of colored flowers on Griffin’s shirt, which not only imbued the drawing with a splashy rhythm but also foreshadowed the giant flowers that Warhol would paint, over and over, in the following decade.
Read the rest.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Torture in the Obama era

One of my consistent themes over the last year, when Obama's ascendancy to the White House throne was merely a faux-progressive wet dream, is that on such matters as post 9/11 "war on terra" policies such as torture the White House occupant and his/her party affiliation would make not a dime's worth of difference. The Pope of Hope has not failed to fulfill my initial impressions in the last several months.

Although others have already analyzed the most recent news on the eerie continuance between the Bush II regime and the Obama regime on the matter of torture, I would like to at least reinforce what is out there, and admonish those who continue to cling to their American Idol (which is essentially what the American presidency has devolved into) to reconsider their loyalties and to try something novel: adhere to fundamental principles of human rights and dignity.

Thus far, aside from the symbolic "closure" of the Guantánamo Bay torture chambers, and a few superficial semantic changes (the term "enemy combatant" has been scrubbed from the official governmental lexicon, as has the term "Global War on Terror"), the evidence to date should leave human rights activists and advocates both startled and angry. Although documents from the previous regime have begun to trickle into what passes for news media, Obama's regime has refused to pursue investigations and where appropriate prosecutions of those who crafted the policies in the first place. When an authority figure admonishes his/her subordinates to "move forward" or to "forgive and forget" my impulse is to not take it on face value - rather than suggesting we all gather 'round the campfire and sing "Kumbaya" what Obama is doing is to subtly demand that we dissenters shut up.

Rather than shut up, I hope that those of us who still pass for dissidents in the U$A will ramp up our criticism - reminding those of conscience that torture techniques, that contrary to our ruling elites' propaganda and regardless of which political party presides over them, fail abysmally as a means of obtaining truth (whether we want to define truth as confessions or intelligence), and that merely substituting one gulag for another (as in the case of mothballing Gitmo while expanding Bagram) is simply unacceptable on either pragmatic or moral grounds.

Musical Interlude

Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon cover the late Phil Ochs' classic "Love Me I'm a Liberal":