Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Autumn People

"Who'd believe us?"
"I believe you."
"You do? But we're not grown ups!"
"That's why I believe you."
Learning about the Autumn People in Something Wicked This Way Comes

The autumn months are never a calm time in America. Autumn is a very Traditional period, a time of strong Rituals and the celebrating of strange annual holidays like Halloween and Satanism and the fateful Harvest Moon, which can have ominous implications for some people.... There is always a rash of kidnapping and abductions of schoolchildren in the football months. Preteens of both sexes are traditionally seized and grabbed off the streets by gangs of organized perverts who traditionally give them as Christmas gifts to each other to be personal sex slaves and playthings.

So wrote Hunter S Thompson in Hey, Rube, his final collection before his sudden death after one more football season. Autumn's always been the favoured time for nature and unnatural men to give the planet a radical makeover through contagion, flood and war. The seasonal decay and its vectors of disease just makes best sense of our Will to Catastrophe, and we're more inclined to believe the worst, because we feel ourselves most vulnerable to those who could do their worst. If the world appears to be falling apart faster than usual, and our bodies with it, then it must be back-to-school time.

Because it's Autumn, I'm still ill, and the longer post I want to write will have to wait. But here's what I'm thinking about, when I'm not thinking about how crappy I feel.

Ahmadinejad's rise and role in Target: Iran reminds me of the drive to privatize water in a city like Detroit. Seemingly oddly so, but not actually, as both have been directed by much the same interests.

Would there be such fatalist expectation of a strike on Iran if Mohammad Khatami were still president? Try as Fox might, the reformist advocate of a "Dialogue Among Civilizations" could not be made to put on the Hitler mustache. If the United States wanted a diplomatic solution and a rapprochement with Tehran, he was their man. But it didn't, and he wasn't. In 2003 the Swiss ambassador to the US carried a proposal from Khatami to negotiate a resolution to all outstanding issues, including Iran's nuclear program and a two-state solution to Israel and Palestine. Washington's reaction was to censure the Swiss ambassador.

In Detroit, as in many cities and nations ruled by kleptocrats who are aliens to their own citizens, infrastructure has been starved of public funds, and tens of thousands have found themselves without water. Why? To make circumstances so dire that any solution offered will be taken as an escape from institutionalized misery. And the only solution the rulers offer is privatization.

Spurning Khatami's overtures and the season of conciliation from Iran toughened its hardliners, but it wasn't a missed opportunity for Washington. It was the last thing they wanted, while Ahmadinejad is just the devil they needed. ("US Focus on Ahmadinejad Puzzles Iranians," reads a New York Times headline today. “The United States pays too much attention to Ahmadinejad," an Iranian political scientist is quoted. “He is not that consequential.”) Why? To sharpen the tensions to such a point that opinion makers determine the situation cannot be allowed to continue. And the only solution the rulers offer is violence.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Missing Time

"I'll show you the life of the mind!"
from Barton Fink

I've been here, sitting up with a cold/sinus infection/God knows what, that's temporarily robbed me of the ability to put two paragraphs together. A new post will be along early in the new week.

It's going to happen very soon. The great event that will end the horror. That will end the sorrow. Next Tuesday, when the sun goes down, I will play the Moonlight Sonata backwards. This will reverse the effects of the world's mad plunge into suffering for the last 200 million years. What a lovely night that will be. What a sigh of relief, as the senile robins become bright red again, and the retired nightingales pick up their dusty tails, and assert the majesty of creation!
Leonard Cohen

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Grassroots Wisdom"

"Daniel Boone wasn't looking for unemployment insurance"

A few brief observations to follow-up Tuesday's post.

1. In my experience, people who describe themselves as apolitical are those most likely to repeat right-wing talking points, and call it "telling it like it is."

2. Binary thinking is a mind cancer that retards insight, and unfortunately flourishes in conspiracy culture. "The beginning of wisdom," said Terrence McKenna, "is our ability to accept an inherent messiness in our explanation of what's going on." But popular conspiratology is a pathological neat freak that abhors disorder and complication, which is why it can never rise above the level of entertainment and become an agent of change and justice. It's not meant to. And so it thrives.

3. Winning the battle for popular opinion might mean something if opinion in America were not so cheap, malleable, and effectless.

4. Embracing a minority position is not an admission of futility or failure. "When great changes occur in history," said this guy, "when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong."

5. "Big government "/"small government" is an unhelpful construct, and I'm sure a great favourite around Lonesome Rhodes' cracker barrel. Rhetoric notwithstanding, the US government is shrinking, withdrawing from many aspects of social spending and corporate oversight and privatizing longstanding public trusts. Even the military is increasingly evermore an umbrella of private contractors and a fist for private interests, though still under the cover of "national security." It's not the size, it's what you do with it. Or, to those who want it drowned and the others who can no longer recognize their own best interest, what you want done to it.

6. With exceptions that probably could be counted on the knuckles of one finger, the Left simply does not exist in Washington. (And I mean a Left that would be recognizably such beyond America's borders.) The Democratic/Republican duopoly is the control system's imitation of representative government and a substitute for ideological choice that rarely rocks the perpetual ruling class and its conspiratocracy. And when it does, they haven't been shy about letting us know.

7. Since I've long held the view that the neocons were intentionally set loose as berserkers to move the goalposts so they could later be scapegoated for 9/11 and Iraq, and the "true conservatives" could return in glory, I'm not particularly surprised that 9/11 Truth's Big Tent has become a conservative circus and a Texas Republican is acclaimed as the anti-war candidate.

8. Initially, and to the credit of its first generation of leadership, the truth in "9/11 Truth" referred to its absence from the official record, and the need for an independent accounting. (A recent echo of this is heard in the title of 9/11: Press for Truth.) Now, it means the Revealed Truths of the vying catechisms of "Inside Job": almost exclusively demolition, missiles and TV fakery. So it isn't enough anymore to say the Official Story is a lie, though it is, since the popular unofficial stories are as well. And perhaps told by the same storyteller.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

No One Saw the Carny Go

And the dwarves were given the task of digging the ditch
And laying the nag's carcass in the ground - Nick Cave

Fairytale of 9/11

Six years later, and another Tuesday, and it seems as though much of America and the world is still obsessed with the spectacular failure of Britney Spears last Sunday night on MTV.

How could this have happened? How many people in suits needed to be asleep at how many switches during rehearsals, to which Spears would show up hours late with a frozen margarita in hand? How could the breathtaking crash and burn have gone unanticipated by those whose business it is to do just that? The warning signs were flashing like a Christmas tree, and the chatter was incessant, hinting at a "Big Wedding" in Vegas. Most alarmingly, how could the VMA's producers have stood down for the three vulnerable minutes which would draw the most viewers and set the tone for the entire broadcast?

Somewhat surprisingly, mainstream sources can be found alluding to hidden and unspoken forces at play beneath the surface. The Washington Post, for instance, whispers of ratings which have been "sinking steadily since 2001," with last year's audience less than half of that six years ago. "MTV President Christina Norman called this year's version of the show a 'total reinvention,'" and the Post expected that the fiasco of "the Spears appearance likely will goose the ratings." [And the numbers are in: "A wobbly Britney Spears on your TV show is better than no Britney Spears. Ask MTV. Evidence comes from the network's surprisingly high-rated Video Music Awards, which soared in viewership 23% over last year's numbers, giving the show 7.08 million viewers. It was the highest-rated cable show among 12-34 viewers--5.0 million--this year. Moreover, MTV.com set records. On Monday, the day after the event, MTV posted its best daily traffic ever--2.6 million unique visitors--40% higher than a year ago."] A catastrophic success, as another showman once called another show.

But perhaps most damning for the network's complicity in Spears' public humiliation is its choice of Sarah Silverman to immediately follow her on stage, who then, predictably, "proceeded to bury her." Her caustic routine heavily underscored Spears' embarrassment - "25 years old and she's already accomplished everything she is going to accomplish in her life" - and winked at still stunned viewers that MTV was in on the joke.

Gossip blogger Perez Hilton put it bluntly: "MTV is the one that put Silverman on after Britney. They knew what they were doing!!!" While Kayne West, who knew for whom Bush's priorities were elsewhere during Katrina, has also intuited the meaning of September 9, 2007: "They exploited Britney in helping to end her career."

Now, a hard-line MTV MIHOPer would want to take Spears out of the picture all together, saying that wasn't really her (you know: distinguish between "Fat Britney" and "Skinny Britney") and ask simply, "Who benefited?" (Loose Change-like, there is already a revised video seriously analyzing the "physical evidence" for a loose heel. You can practically see the squibs.) But of course she had her own motive and intentions and naive expectations of benefit, which were used against her, and she believed herself to be in command of the situation, when in fact the situation was entirely out of her control.

Spears is a main-sequence star who has burned through her talent. As a credible performer she is spent, but as an unself-aware freak-for-hire she remains a precious, exploitable commodity. Which is why MTV let it happen on purpose.

A day earlier, Fox could have averted or ameliorated another live train wreck when Geraldo Rivera and Alex Jones crossed bullhorns. It didn't, and both Rivera and Jones got a chance to blovate to their bases with studied exasperation about "anarchists" and the "New World Order." It may not have been made to happen, but I doubt that any of the principals in this media circus were sorry that it had.

The Big Top

And speaking of circuses, I'm not fond of Big Tents. Whenever I hear the call to come together beneath one my inclination is to walk away briskly in the opposite direction. I won't say it's good that I want to do this every single time. Just most of the time, when it's the best.

Maybe it's partly a Canadian thing. Canada doesn't quite yet have America's circus culture of political action Big Tops, though there's still the call to conglomeracy, and the incomprehension when the invitation goes unanswered. The Liberals, when it suits them - naturally at election time - try to seduce the social democrat vote of the NDP to join their big tent on the left, though to many New Democrats the Liberal left looks indistinguishable from the right. The NDP, in turn, invite the Greens to join their not-quite-so big tent, but the parties' core values are not concomitant, and its best and most honest argument remains the elimination of competition. Because admission to the Big Tent is almost always unconditional surrender.

September 11th saw a Big Tent hastily erected that spanned the entire United States, sheltering virtually every American. Bush was polling in the 90s, and House and Senate Democrats made an even greater virtue of submission, particularly after its leadership received reprimanding letters accompanied with billions of finely-milled anthrax spores. "Bipartisanship" is as much a lie in American politics as partisanship is to the Democratic leadership, so long as the Big Tent advances a single agenda.

Six years on, and of course America has more than one Big Tent. It has two. And though they appear in opposition to one another, their competition is an illusion. They're both cynically run by the same circus family, and exist for entertainment purposes only.

Step Right Up

In a press release announcing his decision to oppose the House resolution on 9/11, Dennis Kucinich writes that "if Congress really wanted to honor the memory of those who died on September 11, we would cause the full truth to be told to the American people." Kucinich is also sponsoring two congressional hearings this Fall into certain "financial issues" of September 11, and is the only presidential candidate who would think of - and dare to - ask a roomful of voters, "How many of you believe that the whole story of 9/11 has not been told?" And yet Kucinich is decidedly not the preferred choice of most full-throated activists under the "Inside Job" Big Tent. Why is that? Six years on, who's running this circus?

Listen to the amplified voices of New Truth and pay attention to where they've pitched their tent. If you're not already there yourself by conscious choice, it may surprise you. They'll tell you that "Left" and "Right" are fictions woven by the same enslavers, and then launch into uncompromising, nativist rants against foreigners (the Mexicans are coming), denial of environmental crises (an affront to property rights and individualism), internationalism (paranoid fear of the "blue helmet"), taxation and gun control. And listen attentively to some others, influential yet off the main stage, and you'll hear Larouchian tropes, "Patriot" and militia jargon, coded speech about "international bankers" and the necessities of historical "revision." ("Suspecting what the Israeli/Palistine conflict is really about," posts "Killtown", "the strong evidence Israel was involved with 9/11, and seeing how 9/11 was faked in general, it makes me wonder how much of the Holocaust was true or not.... WingTV seems to think the Holocaust was a major hoax like 9/11 was along with Judicial-Inc.")

In 2007, the largest tent for "9/11 Truth" in America is led and dominated by conservatives, far-right "Patriots" and Libertarians. So naturally it follows the choice for President is not Kucinich, who would "take our guns" and do something righteous with federal power instead of abolish it, but Ron Paul, even though his position on 9/11 is better described as blowback than "inside job." ("I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback," said Paul.)

The depth of Paul's support is debatable, but it's almost implausibly broad. From Kucinich's base of support - one Kucinich campaign worker writes that she's trying "to figure a way to bring these democrats to Dennis Kucinich. He is Ron Paul on steriods. That's what I tell them anyway." - to white nationalist "9/11 Truth" activists on Stormfront (I won't link to Stormfront, but it's not difficult to find):

Anyone who doesn't vote for Paul on this site is an assclown. Sure he doesn't come right out and say he is a WN, who cares! He promotes agendas and ideas that allow Nationalism to flourish. If we "get there" without having to raise hell, who cares; aslong as we finally get what we want. I don't understand why some people do not support this man, Hitler is dead, and we shall probably never see another man like him.

Pat Buchanan's book "Where the Right Went Wrong" is a prime example of getting the point across without having the book banned for anti semitism. The chapters about the war in Iraq sound like a BarMitzvah, but he doesn't have to put the Star of David next to each name for us to know what he means. We are running out of options at this point, and I will take someone is 90% with us versus any of the other choices.

Not to mention if Paul makes a serious run, he legitimizes White Nationalism and Stormfront, for God's sake David Duke is behind this guy!

There have been concerns expressed about what Paul may believe regarding race. Of greater concern to progressive Americans should be what he undoubtedly and unabashedly embraces: the end of much social spending and corporate regulation, such as it still exists in the United States. The vision of governance, and what public office can and should do, is the inversion of progressive values and the exclamation point to the end of the New Deal. Paul's radical Libertarianism would make him a privateer's wet-dream president: Grover Norquist's ideal henchman, holding the federal government beneath the bathwater while it drowned.

Now, Paul seems like an honest enough guy, and appears to hold his positions with integrity. But in politics, integrity is a commodity that intentionally obfuscates policy with character. And it is also a tactic common to populist fascist movements of the last century. That's not to equate Paul with Hitler or Mussolini or Peron. There are many good reasons why the comparisons are absurd. But it bears reminding that fascism is populist: its voices the loudest; its tents among the biggest; its appeal, appallingly broad.

I want to be the minority.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sorry for the extended absence. New post on the way.

On edit: Back on Tuesday.