Friday, December 31, 2010

WikiLeaks, Secrecy States and the Call for Blood

Leave it to veteran pacifist David McReynolds to point out the pathology of the right's latest calls for violence. David has been emailing a group including me almost daily pointing out the ways in which right wing hawks' current call for blood is the culmination of the the violent secrecy state. At a time when almost 20% of Americans are unemployed, underemployed, and in general, employment-challenged; at a time when we are fighting two illegal wars and watching our domestic infrastructure crumble and social programs dry up because of it; after we've suffered the worst oceanic oil disaster in human history; what does the right do? Call for the assassination and/or execution of people leaking and disseminating classified documents. Rather than being outraged at the content of the documents, conservatives want to send one of our James Bonds out to assassinate the founder of the web page releasing that information.

This isn't just a couple of over-exposed loonies, not the hideous hybrid created by the joining of Ann Coulter and Michael Savage, not just Alan Dershowitz writing another book. The calls for assassination are coming out of the conservative woodwork. It's crass opportunism rather than sound policy analysis, of course, but it provides further proof that, as conservatism circles the drain, its adherents will go to ever greater lengths to demonstrate their verility and marketability. Nor should we forget that what passes for analysis from the conservative side is mostly provided by politicians who are receiving bonifide paychecks from Fox News.

As I said on Wednesday's podcast, Bradley Manning is the whipping boy for the secrecy state. Even if the "limited" solitary confinement of Manning is not torture, it's not clear what the policy purpose of such confinement is if it's _not_ punitive. And, of course, if it is punitive, it is unconstitutional and even violates the UCMJ's Article 13: "No person, while being held for trial, may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement upon the charges pending against him, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon him be any more rigorous than the circumstances required to insure his presence..."

Unnecessary, unlawful confinement and drain-circling political figures trying to make their name, or keep their name, by calling for murder: These are the whines of a dying military-industrial complex and spokespersons desperate to make a few more bucks before the collapse of empire. We need to keep articulating the alternatives in 2011.

The Real Dexter

Not sure about this other "Dexter" everybody's talking about. The real Dexter has a massive laboratory and can time travel and stuff. Much cooler than being a (yawn) serial killer.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

image management

Just like Bill Clinton gutted welfare better than any Republican could, President Obama has overseen the dismantling of major components of New Deal and Great Society policies--in the midst of an economic crisis the likes of which haven't been seen in half a century. And to think the right wing subintellosphere still calls him a socialist...
One fact says a great deal about the reality of Obama’s policies: the reduction in the estate tax included in his tax-cut deal with the Republicans brings the tax on inherited wealth to its lowest level since 1931, prior to Roosevelt’s coming to power. Roosevelt during World War II pushed for the tax rate on the highest income tax bracket to be raised to 91 percent and imposed a cap on executive salaries.

Obama’s measures will provide an estimated $70 billion a year in tax breaks for the rich and hand over an additional $23 billion in estate tax cuts to 6,600 families.
The shift on Obama exemplifies the ceaseless efforts of the corporate-owned and controlled media to artificially create political realities by means of image making. Obama’s election was largely the result of a media marketing operation, backed and financed by sections of the ruling class that saw the need for a change in image and personnel after the foreign policy disasters of the Bush years and in the face of public hatred for Bush and the Republicans.
Now, the media is seeking to repackage and repair the badly discredited Obama administration. Why? Because it is dutifully doing the bidding of the financial aristocracy.

does yours?

Inspired by a random note by a friend...

My butt shines like gold
There's too much of it to hold
It smells like a pretty flower
Although I never shower
It jangles when I walk
I wish that it could talk
They'll say when I am old
That my butt shone like gold
--MJS 12-28-10

Monday, December 27, 2010

start from anywhere post 2

The WikiLeaks affair presupposes "state secrets." So what is the state, and on what grounds may it keep secrets?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

DADT and Economic Justice

Sometimes acts of justice move in the same normative direction even though they may not be fully consistent with one another.  Activists negotiate their movement around these acts in different ways.  While millions of people are celebrating the impending demise of the ban on openly GLBT military personnel, a few organizations, and many individuals, have questioned the appropriateness of progressives celebrating a policy which, foundationally, is a victory for the military-industrial complex, a route for more smoothely escorting people into the imperialist death machine.

While it is important to note that the public justification for lifting the ban drips with the rhetoric of imperialism, there's not a lot of new information to discover there.  The U.S. military is simultaneously the oppressive arm of multinational capital, and home to millions of working class people, many of whom are economically dependant on the military and, of those, many who discover, too late in some instances, that much of the solidarity, honor, and valor they may initially have sought in their jobs has been hijacked by the imperialist-mercenary role of U.S. forces. 

One terse dismissal of the DADT victory came from Queers for Economic Justice, who seamlessly tie the struggle for economic justice to the overall struggle against militarism:
QEJ believes military service is not economic justice, and it is immoral that the military is the nation’s de facto jobs program for poor and working-class people. And since QEJ organizes LGBTQ homeless people in New York City, we wanted to remind the LGBT community and progressive anti-war allies that militarism and war profiteering do not serve the interests of LGBT people.
When I posted QEJ's statement on the Shared Sacrifice FB fan page, one reader responded that it was shameful QEJ seemed incapable of distinguishing between doing one good thing and solving every systemic problem.   I agree, but I'm trying to understand their argument better. They needed to better articulate how, precisely, this is a setback or a distraction--the only two warrants, as I see it, for their conclusion. It is true that, as presently constructed, "military service is not economic justice." But neither are most jobs where we're demanding an end to discrimination. What I do agree with, vehemently, is the need to prioritize the struggle for economic justice.

Last Saturday, Jason & Annette & I had a good discussion on the Shared Sacrifice Weekend podcast about the tension between equal rights within existing institutions, and the true argument that this is all just more human beings being thrown into the grinder. Several arguments emerged, of which the following are the general types, and I am not necessarily endorsing any of them as I list them: (1) Gays already serve, always have, so kind of a "non-unique, only a risk you increase people's dignity" argument. (2) Equal opportunity: Serving in the military is often a pathway to getting good jobs, paying for education, and other benefits. Saying "f--- the war machine!" doesn't answer back the equality argument, it just makes you sound like a hippie who has nothing to offer the working class. (3) The "it's not militarism itself, it's the bourgeois fat cats who start the illegal wars" argument. Essentially: the military can be used for good ends such as fighting the Nazis, disaster response, space exploration, anything good requiring major amounts of discipline, comaradery and collective will. Don't knock the military--reform society and end the corporate colonization of all aspects of American life, and institutions will invariably change for the better. (4) Don't insult people in the military by reducing the entirety of their existence and their values to "dying for oil" or whatever.

Personally I see no more contradiction fighting imperialism while promoting equality in the military, than I see fighting wage slavery while promoting equality in the workplace.  In a sense, these are inconsistent, because the social and material conditions under which we live are themselves inconsistent.  But like I said at the outset, they move in the same normative direction.  Controversial, even uncomfortable conversations like those sparked by QEJ, help us forge that normative space, important in the long view.  And while we argue, we can fight for common goals (think ENDA, since even after DADT is repealed, bosses all over the country will still be able to fire workers for being gay). 

Sunday, December 05, 2010

start from anywhere post 1

A paradoxical, consistent historical phenomenon: When the number of poor in a society increases, so do the open, blatant attacks on the poor (it's their own fault, they shouldn't be allowed to vote, let's criminalize poverty, etc.).  As socioeconomic forces increase poverty, the rhetoric reducing poverty to a moral choice escalates.