Wednesday, April 23, 2008

spam poetry edition

Call it "spoetry." Sometimes the absurdity generates its own anti-thematic pattern, in a manner worthy of Lewis Carroll, Dr. Seuss, or John Lennon.

Found this one in my junk box this morning, from a "Katy Bautista:"

hehe, bro...
we got it all
dolores paunchy riggs ruffian
gilbert hanoverian maniac
privilege dignity
irksome grocery investor
antaeus fibonacci
major lore mauricio
patriot throng cowpox‏

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Shared Sacrifice Radio

Gary Barkley, who "began" his conscious political odyssey last summer giving an insider's view of Iraq to a group of college debaters at the University of Wyoming, has invited me to do a talk radio show with him via blog talk radio--a great forum that I've participated in before. We're serious about making this a worthwhile show, and have booked a truly great inaugural guest: Damon Linker, author of The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege, and contributer to the New York Times, New Republic, and Wall Street Journal, among other publications. We're already lining up guests for the weeks to come, and want to spread the word for people to call into the show.

The details are at the link above. The show is 12-2 PM MT this Saturday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

racism update again

This time, it's Republicans calling Obama "boy." (label this in the "areyoufrigginserious" category) Anyone who doesn't understand the context of this and why it's extremely offensive ought to do a bit of research...

Yep, that's right. Kentucky congressman Geoff Davis said the following:

“I’m going to tell you something: That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button,” Mr. Davis said. “He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country.”...

Mr. Davis has sent a letter of apology to Mr. Obama, and described his comments as a “poor choice of words,” according to The Associated Press.

Monday, April 14, 2008

...and from the right...

Let's see how long it takes Human Events to remove this disgusting comment on an Obama article:

"Dan--Obama should never be allowed near the White House...except in the kitchen." (Otis, Mayberry, Apr 14, 2008 @ 11:18 AM)

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the all-too-common covert racist I speak of in more detail below. This is the person who is way too scared to say these things in any detectable or accountable way, but who feels insulated, made safe, by the presence of intolerant garbage publications like Human Events, where even Ann Coulter finds shelter.

Obama done?


I think he is. I think his comments were perfectly reasonable, in fact I agree strongly with them, and I even believe people should have interpreted his remarks charitably (eg, we use religion as a crutch when faced with long-term economic malaise, and it doesn't really solve anything, because it's a particularly reactionary kind of religious belief, spawned from bitterness, whatever).

But now all the people who don't want to admit (even to themselves) that they just aren't comfortable voting for a black person with a non-anglo name will find an overt reason not to do so. And others will be genuinely offended by his remarks, because they have been taught to be. A very few people will be offended by his remarks in good faith, and intelligently. Put the covert racists and scared white middle class together with those few intelligent people, and in a close election, well, it doesn't look good.

I'm admittedly an outside observer, but I "like" Obama well enough, and many people I care deeply about are not only supporting him; they are doing so with vigor and investing a lot of what's left of their faith in the system in this guy.

If it does cost him, then as much as I (or people like me) don't see a problem with what he said, I do have to ask: What the heck was he thinking? Or was his blood sugar low that day and did he let some of his (justified) bitterness about mainstream religion slip out at the wrong time? Not smart. Not smart at all. Then again, not fair, not fair at all, what's happened to him, what's gonna happen, etc.

If he loses because of this, I at least hope it will clarify for us the futility (even in the face of inevitability) of mainstream politics.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

There is no anti-war movement; was there ever?

I have, as one voice among many others, posited the absence of an anti-war movement for some time now. While reliable pro-peace, labor and left groups still oppose the war from their position of consistency, there is no genuine anti-war movement per se. There are, instead, socialists opposed to the war, unitarians opposed to the war, nurses opposed to the war, feminists opposed to the war, and so on.

I mean, sure. There are networks of activists, there are activities, there is communication, there are declarations. But the rank-and-file anti-war demonstrators are smaller in number than ever, and what may even be more important in the current age, the anti-war side has zero influence on the media.

Not coincidentally in the least, the New York Times editorial page Editor Andrew Rosenthal posited an absence of a movement two years ago. The subtitle of his piece, incidentally, was "Where have all the protesters gone," which would have been a clever take on Peter, Paul and Mary, were it not for the fact that this is apparently the chosen title or subtitle of about a hundred other pieces asking similar questions (google it, seriously.)

Liberal newspaper editors are one thing, though, and serious anti-establishment intellectuals and writers like Tariq Ali are another. And the title of his recent piece is not some funny play on our familiarity with a hippie song. Instead, his scathing and pessimistic case for movement nothingness is subtitled "The Movement That Has Dissolved Itself." It's the most grim prognosis of politics I've read in a long time...

The fact is that it never was, in the true and proper sense of the word, a movement -- only a day of paroxysm, a spontaneous and desperate attempt of citizens of all political persuasions to stop the war. It was conceived, if you will, as a preventive blow against a war that people instinctively knew was based on a heap of lies. The day when the war really began, antiwar mobilizations began to die. Citizens, demoralized by their own failure, could no longer find the strength to take to the streets in great numbers. ...There is no solidarity with the Iraqis. They are Arabs, largely Muslims, and the wave of Islamophobia that has swept the West has brought with it the dehumanization of those who were murdered....the movements of workers and progressives in general in Western Europe, increasingly in crisis, are indifferent to their destiny -- just as they are indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians....a majority of the North American and European citizens are still in favor of the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq: however, their voices are not being heard by the political establishment. There is a growing crisis of political representation in the West. Democracy is becoming hollow. In the US electoral campaign, both the Democratic candidates publicly say they are in favor of a withdrawal from Iraq, but privately they reassure the military that they do not seriously intend to withdraw despite being forced to say so because people are discontent. In the end, the fact that there is no draft in the US means that most Americans are not directly affected by the war. Military families opposed to the war constitute the only important pressure group. As a substitute for the draft, the US has recruited mercenaries from all over the world: there are 50,000 Ugandans, thousands of Central Americans, South Africans, and others who are paid the market price to fight in Iraq. Who cares if they die? It's a risk that they assume, in exchange for wages and US citizenship. A grim picture, which should make Westerners think.
There's obviously a lot to digest here, but probably the scariest thing for those of us who see political activism as part of our being is the very real possibility that protest doesn't matter in the least: Those of us without massive financial influence already live in a virtually totalitarian society where debate is managed to the point of ineffectiveness, and our leaders' true power-sources are insulated to the point of inaccessibility. This was a possibility posited by Tom Engelhardt last October in a piece entitled, what else, "Where have all the protesters gone?"

However, over the years, unlike in the Vietnam era, the demonstrations shrank, and somehow the anxiety, the anger -- though it remained suspended somewhere in the American ether -- stopped manifesting itself so publicly, even as the war went on and on. Or put another way, perhaps the anger went deeper and turned inward, like a scouring agent. Perhaps it went all the
way into what was left of an American belief system, into despair about the unresponsiveness of the government -- with paralyzing effect. As another potentially more disastrous war with Iran edges into sight, the response has been limited largely to what might be called the professional demonstrators. The surge of hope, of visual creativity, of spontaneous interaction, of the urge to turn out, that arose in those prewar demonstrations now seemed so long gone, replaced by a far more powerful sense that nothing anyone could do mattered in the least.

This is the most damning indictment of all--both of the system, and the way we can approach resisting it. It indicts mass protest, but also indicts the poststructuralist concepts of culture-jamming or other media-engaged theories of subversive theatrics. It indicts politics for all but a wealthy few, who will never have to personally face the consequences of deploying large numbers of soldiers and weapons and bombs from one place to another for the sake of geostrategic and resource gain.

...That is, until the only remaining possible resistance and transcendence is complete, total, violent system collapse, which will rain down fire and death on the innocent and culpable alike.