Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pandachops' vision

I found this posting under an article about the Obama-Clinton nomination fight on the Guardian newspaper's website. Pandachops has a very strange style of writing, swinging between enigmatic, even vague statements and insanely crisp images of a frightening future. His fear is an Obama-facilitated populism morphing into something awful, angry, and then being suppressed even more awfully. In the end, he forecasts, the morality of the upper class people will be torn like a tissue paper in a hurricane, which I take to mean they will be forced to reveal their true colors and viciously support the suppression. Stable times allow the privileged -- including myself -- to cultivate soft, humane self-images. Read this remarkable post.

Pandachops March 9, 2008 3:26 am

The USA is in a terrible mess, so terrible that commentators are already comparing the boundary conditions (that is, what we know about right now) to those in the great depression. Unemployment is rising very rapidly and is already very high. Incarceration rates are the highest in the world (yes, higher than China). And the banking system is in a mess that you would not believe. Don't forget that America has witnessed on prime time TV the utter obliteration of one of it's most famous and beloved cities; and that the poor were treated like cattle for all to see; and those images will haunt and terrify all those who see their own future framed by outsourcing, industrial decline, the eclipse (probably permament) of the sunrise industries, semiconductor manufacturing chief amongst these.

Hilliary? Barack?

They're both crazy. No-one of sound mind at the moment would even want to be IN The USA, let alone running the damn place.

I tend to hang around with Left wing intellectuals, who, predictably see the Clintons as an unmitigated wreck, a bunch of Al Capone lookalikes who despise the poor and would lock up the lot if they but could; but Barack terrifies them even more. Why?

Because these people that I know also used to work for the people who operated out of Saigon and they have a long memory. They believe that the USA really and truly this time is heading for a social catastrophe. They, ironically, would sooner live with McCain, who they see as a soft touch and completely disconnected from the obvious future trajectory of the Washington Consensus, than Democrats who would rather be seen as "right on" true believers and immediately carry on down the path of turning the USA into one huge, advanced lockdown the moment they hear a firecracker going off. McCain at least has the potential of harking back to something approaching a badly defined libertarianism; the Clintons have nothing less than a ten year bombing campaign and vengeance on the meek. Ask the inhabitants of Cleveland, Ohio, for their opinion of this.

Those long memories I mentioned are a problem. There has been the risk for a long time that some Washington outsider (Barack appears to be this) will launch a genuine populist movement which eschews both ends of the establishment equaly, neglects the empire, and concentrates on the poor and the needy.

Sounds nice, doesn't it? Until you realise what the response would be. Life under Barak would be fantastic, there would be no doubt about that; that is, until the shit really hit the fan, and either he got assassinated, or something like full on civil war was declared, the results of that being tragic beyond belief. No? The Right are gearing up for just exactly this scenario with great enthusiasm. Go check out what is going down on "FreeRepublic" right now. It should scare you. People read Anne Coulter and have a good laugh, and rightly so, but there are far more sinister people than she just around the corner, who really would do a somewhat better job at preparing funny lapt ops and letting off fireworks at the Canadian Parliament. Take a look. Better than television, folks.

If you think this is all nuts, please do me a favour and think very carefully about exactly WHAT these helicopter dumps of soft currency on the populace is actually going to result in. Think about what is going to happen when the fed no longer can cover up the news of the impending destruction of hedge fund after hedge fund. It is starting with the likes of Peloton, but will go far further than that, and by the time Hillary/Barack/McCain/whatever stand at the podium, swinging their medallions like dyspeptic Olympic silver champions, hoping to God that no-one takes a blood test and notices that they are still stoned on the cocaine from last night, it is going to be hell on earth in that place.

My advice? Go get that Greyhound and get the hell out.

There you go, lazy writing on my part. Life under Barack would NOT be nice. I'm certain he would do what he possibly could to make it that way, though. In fact, no, he might even be able to buy a few precious months for those close to the margins to make it through for a while. But what is building up in the USA is economic terror. There is nothing any candidate could do about that, even in principle, now. Barack would appear to have a somewhat better morality than most on this subject. But what my good friends are worried about is a populist movement based not on a charismatic leader especially (though he might be the focus of it), but based on hardship, poverty, anger, despair, and finally a variety of political nihilism that we have seen before, but far away, and we don't talk about that much any more than we can help.

This populist movement is likely to look like the sort of thing that is a recall of the old paternalistic, grass roots stuff from the early part of the 20th century, appealing in a loose, disconnected, kind of Bruce Springsteen way, but mixed in a devils cocktail with far right reconstructionalism from the deviant Christians, who have spent the last twenty five years, a whole generation, waiting for this one moment in time and space to eventuate.

It might well start sounding like it is something from a working mans perspective, and for a while it wil seem OK: then, as the economic reality sets in, and the utter impossible, staggering nature of those war debt like deficits finally sinks in, and catastrophic inflation becomes a daily fact, the mood will just get worse and worse. Anyone at the top wil find their morality blown to bits like tissue paper in a hurricane.

Then the real wars will start.

Monday, March 3, 2008

clueless fomenters of civil war

This is Vanity Fair's story on the Bush government's botched plan to foment civil war between the two Palestinian factions. They succeeded with the civil war, but the wrong side won. Morality, anyone?

Then again, Bush's idol is Reagan, who aided the Iraqis and Iranians in killing one another -- about as nihilistic and immoral as you can get.

Buckley and War On Terror PC

This link is to Glenn Greenwald's incisive discussion of William Buckley and his alienation with George W. Bush's "conservatism." In fact, I (a leftist) am more conservative than the neocons, for whom invading and ruining other countries stir little sense of concern. If that is not radical and extreme, I don't know what is. It is radical nationalism, in fact, and is behind the last several years' "Patriotic Political Correctness" whose eager proponents would like to examine each American's soul to determine the level of "love" and "hate" for America.

AIPAC as conduit and agent

This story in today's New York Times (see link below) on an upcoming trial of two former AIPAC officials gives a rare peek into that organization's role as conduit for information between the American and Israeli governments. Not only that, but it shows how American officials regularly discuss classified information with these lobbyists, and how these lobbyists use this classified information to influence the media of both countries.

While the story cites anxieties among some Jewish-American activists about accusations of "dual loyalty" that echo past histories of persecution in Europe, I have to say that if any lobbying organization for any other foreign country were to be so tight with government officials, it would have blown up years ago. This kind of schmoozing is completely normal for these "lobbyists" and for these officials who are supposedly working for the American people and its national interests. Can you imagine paid agents for the government of China or even France having such cozy relations with our officials? What is truly amazing to me is how such illegal and unethical canoodling could go on for so long without raising any eyebrows among the political establishment. The reason for such silence, of course, is that practically the entire political elite of both parties is in on the game.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

to all-encompassingly

Hello Travis,

I have a question for you that has perplexed me quite a while, and which was raised again when I was reading some posts and comments on your blog. I hope you will read this message and take it as seriously as I do.

I suppose I ought to just get used to the idea that as a leftist I "hate" America, but I simply cannot.

My question is, when you write such things (specifically, to someone on a Dec. 4 post on Ahmedinejad), is it just part of the blogging game where everything is tongue in cheek and nothing is meant to be taken seriously? Or do you (and many others like you) really mean it? Do you really believe that there are two groups of people in this country, one group that loves America and another group that hates it?

If it is the former -- that blog language is not meant seriously -- then I feel that there is the risk of language being so cheapened by lazy usage that people become very cynical. Which I think is pretty accurate for a lot of people. I am not this way, however: my ideals of civic duty will never be submerged in cynicism. My own stance is to try to reduce, not increase, this cynicism, by using language carefully, as if it were a tool that can do harm and good.

If it is the latter, on the other hand -- that leftists are those who "hate" America -- then you run into serious logical and other problems. The first problem, in my opinion, is social fragmentation to the point that many people do not have any meaningful contact with people of different political views. When I say meaningful, I mean being friends with such people. When I was in my 20s it was much easier for me to say things about people on the right that were not really true because I rarely interacted with such people. Since then, I have gotten closer to several such people. I see them as people. So I still think they are incorrect on all kinds of issues, but I could never spout such things as "they hate America" or "they are fascists." Because when you really take someone as a person -- which, by the way, is one of the injunctions of Christ's teachings, which you say you follow -- you cannot use language in that cheap a way.

The other problem, besides the human/social one, is logical. Surely people on the right critique the government all the time. Why are these critiques, which are every bit as heated as those from the left, not indicative of "hatred"? My sense is that rightists, being nationalists, view politics in precisely this way: some critiques are motivated by love, others by hatred. The latter is illegitimate, the former is fine. But who are you, or anyone for that matter, to judge who loves America? Especially when the person being judged is a total stranger on the other side of the blogosphere?

Secondly, is not engaging in political talk a rational activity? Why then is this activity conflated with the emotions of love and hate? Surely even people on the right have very conflicted and conflicting emotions regarding not just America but every part of their lives. Think of your own siblings. Are there not feelings of animosity mixed in with love? One cannot be close to someone or something without complex feelings. But my main point here is simply that as rational beings we can make critiques and commentary based on something other than a simplistic emotional yardstick of hate and love.

I hope you will take this inquiry seriously, because it troubles me. Will there come a day when, in a political crisis, people on the left such as myself are branded traitors simply because of rational political positions? Am I a potential traitor, in your eyes, this person you have never met? Or is the language you use just a game with little meaning? Either way, I hope you think about it. Because language really does matter -- to each person, and to the country we share.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

jogging stroller

I don't know the regular term for these vehicles, but you know what I mean: the three wheeled strollers with rubber tires with which middle class women push their children or babies while jogging.

On my bus ride from Maryland to Arizona this past week, I saw such a stroller used for an entirely different usage. An African American woman with a worried expression on her face maneuvered it through the bus stations along the way, her daughter seated in it and various bags and packages balanced atop and in it. One tire was almost flat. The girl was dressed in a jump suit, and followed her mother docilely when not in the stroller, reaching up to her to be held when her mother's arms were free.

They were refugees -- to where, or from what, I do not know.

"dude" gender neutral?

Today watching a basketball game between teams of fifth and sixth grade girls in suburban Arizona, I heard one girl at the bench congratulating a teammate in this way: "Dude, that was perfect! You stole the ball!"

I laughed. I had heard high school girls/women in the kitchen where I worked use the word "dude," but had not thought about the word slipping down in age to little girls. It was like seeing a little girl slipping on big work boots and shuffling around.

My niece, B, said she did not like to use the word because "its weird." But her classmates do use it with each other.

Although dude has been used for males, it can be more easily widened to include females than the other common appellation, "man."

Sweet, dude.