Friday, October 2, 2009
What would be interesting (though so improbably that I will bet my last nickel against it) is if a viable third party presence emerged - my fantasy would be something genuinely from the left. My guess is by the end of 2010, the status quo will be mostly in place.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Given the above, there's no real surprise when some of the WaPo op-ed columnists come rushing to the defense of an individual celebrity who admitted to drugging, raping, and sodomizing a 13-year-old girl, and then fled the country to escape serious prison time. If there is something indefensible, leave it to a WaPo columnist to defend it (and perhaps a WaPo editorial board to feign outrage on rare occasion).
But more broadly, just look at the sort of things that are routinely defended by the Post Op-Ed team -- everything from torture, illegal eavesdropping and imprisonment with no trials to brutal Latin American dictators and unprovoked, devastating American military attacks on countries that haven't attacked us and aren't close to doing so. As Scott Lemieux put it this week when noting that, until Applebaum's second Polanski posting, the competition for most repugnant Polanski defense had been a close call: "Never count Fred Hiatt's crew out of any competition for the most immoral and fact-challenged argument!"
For every brutal, lawless and amoral act, there is a defense of it to be found on the Washington Post Op-Ed page. That's what makes it so unsurprising that two of Polanski's most ardent defenders are employed there. It's nonetheless bizarre to watch their bosses pretend that such views are found only among easily demonized Hollywood celebrities and the European pseudo-intellectual class. The Post Op-Ed page is Ground Zero for defending every corrupt and destructive act that plagues the country. No defense of "basic facts, or even simple decency for that matter" is possible without targeting them first. Washington has the hometown newspaper that perfectly reflects what it is.
Obama believes the Republican Party is a party when in fact it’s a mindset, like Hitler Youth, based on hatred — religious hatred, racial hatred. When you foreigners hear the word ‘conservative’ you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They’re not, they’re fascists.”I can flash back to about a quarter of a century ago when the term "conservative" meant something a bit different in the US. Things have sure changed. I've been witness to the devolution of the GOP from a predominantly economic conservative party (with a few undercurrents of Cold War paranoia and theocratic reactionaries in the margins) to one in which the paranoids and reactionaries run the show. I'm either close personal friends with or related to some of those economic conservatives who left the GOP (or as a few have expressed to me in recent years, the GOP left them) in recent years. I'm not yet convinced that the GOP has much future long-term beyond that of a regional partisan presence, but in those parts of the US where it does hold some tangible power, its foot soldiers can still do some damage - at least to the extent that it is now embraced by the same folks who only a decade or two earlier would have just as soon joined ad hoc militias, and maybe blown up the occasional Federal building. So, one area of agreement between me and a few friends is that the GOP is largely populated by bad apples in a bad barrel. Another area of agreement is that the Dems have themselves shifted to the right in recent decades (or shall I say their primary movers and shakers) - at least enough to where one can much more easily find avowed economic conservatives identifying with it.
As for the rest of Vidal's blurb in the Times, make of it what you will. I'm not convinced that the US is headed for dictatorship in the near-term - the government was never terribly democratic to begin with, but the crackpot talk of coups and such are in all probability nonsense at this point. Flash forward a decade or two, and maybe we'll find sufficient devolution in the political and economic situation to make such talk more plausible to those of us who are much more skeptically minded by nature. For now I'm much more concerned about the US getting even more bogged down in the unnecessary quagmire in Afghanistan, perhaps expanding into Pakistan or Iran. I'm much more concerned that neoliberal orthodoxy (which became Beltway dogma in the Reagan era) will continue to impoverish more and more of us, taking with it the very mindset needed to sustain whatever civic commitment and discourse still remains. And of course, I'm concerned about self-appointed "patriots" who seem to think that showing up to public events packing heat is an appropriate form of political expression, to the extent that such folks have a tendency to do much harm in the name of their twisted ideal of righteousness.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Whatever else one might say about early industrial music (from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s), it was unique. Probably most folks will recall Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle (with good reason) as standouts from that era, but 23 Skidoo bears mention as well. These cats were every bit as challenging and arguably abrasive (personally I find the music pleasant, but I'm, shall we say, a bit different) as the aforementioned bands, but broadened the musical palette to include instrumentation (primarily percussion) from all over the planet. Although there are several tunes that I could easily recommend to the uninitiated, "Kundalini" is as good an intro as any. If you can find the album Urban Gamelan, look for the track "F.U.G.I." It's a personal fave, for the bass line alone:
F.U.G.I. would later be re-recorded as "Coup":
There was some great music from the post-punk era.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
On the job front, I get that employment will look bad for a while. But have we really hit the proverbial bottom or are we merely awaiting the next crash? In my field, we're in a catch-22 situation. People flock to junior colleges and four-year colleges and universities during economic downturns, and the last two years are no exception. However, since the state's coffers are empty-ish, the institution that employs me actually gets less money. If the economy improves, which would be a good thing, we might or might not get more funds from the state legislature (always iffy since there is some lingering hostility toward higher education in my state), but will lose on the enrollment front. Seems like no matter what, we can expect to suffer (hiring freezes, wage freezes, workload increases which amount to de facto pay cuts, budget cuts, etc.). Happy days are here again.
The bigger question is: Why target African Americans when there are are hundreds of vendors at these things? And why assume that they have anything to do with ACORN?As far as the prior article, I'll add this: in my current community, I'm aware that my kids have been hearing all manner of racist and threatening remarks (not aimed at them, but rather at Obama and "socialists") in recent months. Now, let's keep in mind where this comes from - it's not from the kids themselves, but rather their parents and other adults in their lives, and it's usually the same folks who go around parading themselves as holier than thou "good Christians". I'm really not all that surprised that a bunch of white kids would go out and gang up on a lone black kid all the while spouting wingnut rhetoric. The example was set for them at home, possibly church, most definitely on the television and talk radio ravings that in all probability make up the background noise in their respective households. At a more distal level, there is the organizational and cultural racism that has permeated US culture for centuries.
Because, to the teabaggers, ACORN is synonymous with scary black people. The kind who, in the minds of Glenn Beck and his followers, are lurking, waiting to overthrow America when Obama orders them to. (Even if they later turn out to be a dance troupe.)
As Susie says, ACORN is just the new wingnutspeak code for the 'N' word. It's now become an epithet -- one you can chase black people around with and accuse them angrily. Just what America needs right now.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"While the dog did nothing, the looters made off like bandits, and we'll be paying for ages to come. Then again, that was part of the plan, right?
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
If this was a revenge murder for stumbling upon a meth lab or pot plantation, it's hard to understand why such a big deal would be made out of his census identification card. It's possible, I suppose, that anger at the feds in general could make a drug dealer murder a census worker. But the most worrying possibility - that this is Southern populist terrorism, whipped up by the GOP and its Fox and talk radio cohorts - remains real. We'll see.If I had to hazard a guess, I'd err on the side of right-wing extremism given the rather odd details that we've learned about the crime. The fact that the killer or killers made such a deal about Sparkman's census ID card makes it seem like there was more motive than merely a drug-related killing. As the saying goes, stay tuned...