Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Car of Tomorrow

My friend Antonio Sosa, a writer and contributor to Reason magazine and the Daily Caller, directed me to this great gem of animation:



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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Classic Diana

Here's a great little piece of art by an artist called "ratscape," portraying Wonder Woman:




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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

ThunderCats Trailer Online

Tally-ho. I was never a big ThunderCats fan but this looks pretty awesome, indeed. It's aimed to broadcast on Cartoon Network, which already has its arms full of awesomeness with Young Justice and broadcasting various animated films from Disney and Marvel.



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The Titans Club



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Monday, April 4, 2011

Detroit

The rapper/rock musician Yelawolf posted this classic photo of Detroit. No words can sum up something so strange.



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Red Dwarf - Children in Need



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Men With Wings

I want to thank Michael David Cobb Bowen for this incredible video:



My favorite memories as a child were of trips to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. These little sojourns were amazing. Boys are genetically programmed to like military things, something I've seen evidenced more and more as I've gotten older. For instance, my friend Punk Johnny Cash, a staunch anti-war anarchist and founder of the site Gonzo Times, just could not control himself from posting all sorts of stuff on Gonzo Times about the new Captain America film and how excited he is for it.

Without knowing that many men had done the exact same thing well into adulthood, I would imagine myself roaming the world in these hunks of metal. I went to the Museum of Flight numerous times, going into the same planes and watching the same films and eating the same astronaut ice cream again and again.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Obama Shifting America From Lead Role To Supporting?

The New Republic has a good article on Barack Obama's foreign policy framework post-Arab Spring:

The explicit theme was the belief that the net effect of the Arab Spring is positive—that the operations of history are taking the Middle East toward better governance, greater respect for human rights, and, presumably, increased security and stability. This belief in organic progress for the region contrasts with the worldview of the Bush administration, as expressed most powerfully by Vice President Cheney, which assumed that absent American initiative, trends in the global security environment were not only negative, but dire. Without vigorous U.S. action, violent extremism would grow in power and the United States would face mounting danger. While Americans might not want to engineer history, they were compelled to.

President Obama's worldview is decidedly more upbeat. This has profound implications for American policy. It means that the United States does not need to re-engineer the world, but only to prod, channel, and support transformation that is already underway. The people of the Arab world will themselves lead the way rather than being led. Ironically, this optimism resonates more of Reagan than of Bush.

The international community, according to President Obama, shares this perspective and thus will lead efforts to consolidate democracy in the Arab world. In another strange twist, this mirrors Donald Rumsfeld's belief that too much American involvement in resolving crises and fixing problems limits the incentive of other states to do so. Drawing lessons from the Balkan conflict of the 1990s, Rumsfeld believed that if the United States minimized its role in the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq, other nations would step up. Only when they did not was the United States forced to shoulder the burden. Whether because the international community learned from Iraq or because the Arab Spring was born within the Arab world rather than being imposed on it by the United States, Obama expects this to be a collective endeavor.

The flipside of this view is the second, implicit theme in Obama's speech, which is that if the United States embraces the Arab Spring too tightly and attempts to dominate it, the results would be negative, perhaps even disastrous. Better to tolerate some things that the United States might not prefer than to attempt top control the revolution.


For anyone who is not a foreign policy wonk here, the United States has been the implicit security provider for Europe since World War II. Many liberal hawks were likely propelled into neoconservatism not just by the fall of the Berlin wall but also by the lack of response by Europe to the crisis in the Balkans, making it seem after 9/11 that the United States was the only force available to respond to acts of crisis.

That's slowly beginning to shift and out of pure expediency, alot of rumblings that wonks had made about European security dependency are beginning to show in Obama's response to the Arab Spring. While left-wing anti-war dissidents may bemoan the fact that President Obama went from making anti-Iraq war speeches in 2003 to joining a coalition effort in 2011, Obama is making a pretty clear jump from the dominant actor of America's past to an actor in a coalition fueled by countries like France and the United Kingdom.




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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Taking Care of the Cuckoo

I was reading an article in Alternet about the 1980s and this really caught my eye:

In 1975, a Democratic Party emboldened by civil rights, environmental, antiwar, and post-Watergate electoral successes was on the verge of seizing the presidency and a filibuster-proof congressional majority. That year, the Rocky Horror Picture Show and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest were two of the three top-grossing films -- the former a parody using the late-sixties sexual revolution to laugh at the puritanical fifties, the latter based on the novel by beat writer Ken Kesey. Meanwhile, three of the top-rated seven television shows were liberal-themed programs produced by progressive icon Norman Lear, including "All in the Family" --a show built around a hippie, Mike Stivic, poking fun at the ignorance of his traditionalist father-in-law, Archie Bunker.

I've seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and that movie among personal life experience solidified my anti-statist anarchist tendencies. In that film, the state takes the place of the mother and father for many at risk patients and the people willing to take that role are often attracted to it for sick reasons - including a fondness for being in power over other people.

Since I saw that movie years ago, I have lived in the Bay Area. San Francisco, the once "City of Love," is beset by several groups ranging from Hispanic immigrants, art students and homeless people. The large homeless population is often credited by locals as the result of Reagan-era policies of not taking care of the mentally ill.

Only recently, this article appeared in The New Republic in the wake of the Arizona shootings:

Starting in the 1970s, civil libertarians worked to eliminate involuntary commitment or, that failing, to raise the standards and burden of proof so high that few individuals would meet it. Important decisions by the Supreme Court and subordinate courts gave individuals new protections, including a constitutional right to refuse psychotropic medication. A few states have tried to push back in constitutionally acceptable ways, but efforts such as California’s Laura’s Law, designed to make it easier to force patients to take medication, have been stymied by civil rights concerns and lack of funding.

We need legal reform to shift the balance in favor of protecting the community, especially against those who are armed and deranged. This means two changes in particular. First, those who acquire credible evidence of an individual’s mental disturbance should be required to report it to both law enforcement authorities and the courts, and the legal jeopardy for failing to do so should be tough enough to ensure compliance. Parents, school authorities, and other involved parties should be made to understand that they have responsibilities to the community as a whole, not just to family members or to their own student body. While embarrassment and reluctance to get involved are understandable sentiments, they should not be allowed to drive conduct when the public safety is at stake. We’re not necessarily cramming these measures down anyone’s throat: I’ve known many families who were desperate for laws that would help them do what they knew needed to be done for their adult children, and many college administrators who felt that their hands were tied.

Now, one has to ask if there is really a left/right divide on this issue. Reaganism spelled well for many of the civil libertarian causes that the left-wing counterculture posting during the 1960s, like getting rid of the draft (something both Reagan and his chief economics influence Milton Freidman favored) and doing away with the large scale mental institutions mentioned above. The institutions were associated in pop culture not just with the lobotomies that beset Jack Nicholson but also with electro shock therapy (watch the film Shine some time).

Just as it was back in the 1970s, mental illness is still an issue. I've posted alot here about Asperger's syndrome and popular films still dominate the media with the subject. The film It's Kind Of A Funny Story, a recent release about a teen who checks himself in to an institution, is very different from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and tells us that we should trust our superiors to be able to treat the vulnerable well. In life experience, both the evil and good attract to these occupations and it could be a big mistake to get reactionary on the issue. It's an even bigger mistake, however, to leave it below the radar.





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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Revolution Hits Syria


I have a good friend who is from Syria. We talked about the wave of revolutions that have hit everywhere from Libya to Tunisia to Egypt to Bahrain, seemingly affecting authoritarian countries in North Africa and Middle East that have good, bad and neutral relationships with the West. The wave of revolutions has been vindicating for people, like yours truly, who have actual contact with people from that region of the world and know that they desire the same things anyone else in the world does.

When I talked with my friend, she said basically that Syrians are too complacent to really break from the shackles of the Assad family. A magazine I contribute towards called Earthwalkers had a writer located in the country and he seemed to paint a similar picture:

Still, while calls for an Egypt-style “Day of Rage” protest in Damascus in early February garnered 15,000 Facebook supporters, UPI reported that only about a dozen protesters actually showed up, and were promptly beaten away by plainclothes police.

So how much does online freedom actually equate to freedom in the streets?

Ramy Mansour, a print and TV journalist who also edits the news website shukumaku.com, says that government repression of information is minimal, and mostly self-imposed.

It goes on:

So what’s really keeping Syria from a people’s revolution like we saw in Egypt?

According to dissidents like Abdul Nour, it actually has less to do with technological repression, and much more to do with old-fashioned intelligence: people spying on their neighbors and reporting subversive conversations they overhear in cafes to intelligence services.

Or maybe the country is just not fertile grounds for protest because most Syrians are still happy under the 40-year dictatorship. After all, almost everyone I broached the subject with was quick to tell me how much they loved the government.


Protests continued in southern Syria Monday as demonstrators tore down the statue of Hafez al-Assad, Syria's former president, al-Arabiya reported. It remains unclear whether the statue was torn town Monday or last week as some opposition websites claim.


Protestors in the city of Deraa burned the house of the ousted district governor as well as the ruling party's HQ and a local culture ministry office. Al-Arabiya also reported that Syrian army tanks arrived in the city on Sunday.

The closest analogy here is still the one Tariq Ali made: This is the Middle East's 1848. Universalism is on the march. Beyond it's perception as a wasteland of ignorance, oppression of women and dependency on fossil fuel economics, deep at the heart of the Arab world (and the Persian world, and the Berber world) is the desire for freedom and self-determination.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Elly Ney - Mozart Piano Concerto



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Foreign Media Superiority: Signs of Decline

If you read this week's issue of Time, or at least glanced at the cover story by Fareed Zakaria,you will know that America is in decline. We all know it. The signs are all around us. From the resurgence of domestic fascist and racist elements that have been absent since America became a superpower in the post-World War II era to the increasing erosion of American culture and soft influence globally, not to mention the economic growth of India and China, it's pretty obvious that America is losing its hegemonic status, if it hasn't been lost already.

It's really strange where this shows up the most. One could say that the relative impotence of the United States to respond to crisis in Libya or Japan - the sort of thing that America just did because it could for the last fifty years - is a good indicator of a downward slide.

The signs of decline are evident in more subtle ways however, like the coverage of news in the United States. If you were to watch cable news, you really wouldn't know that much about what is going on. Glenn Beck's bold and messy reaction is outpaced by the analytic approach of Rachel Maddow, but both have the feeling of individuals so immersed in the mess that they cannot look at the elements that are taking us down objectively.

That's where Al Jazeera English and Russia Today come in. Both networks have been taking their coverage of the United States into cracks and corners that even many liberal Americans just wouldn't like to go. Russia Today has made many reports on the endless poverty of the country's Native American population, even sending reporters out to the isolated reservations of South Dakota. Unlike Canada, where the CBC has regular programs on the indigenous population and their struggles, the American media acts as if the first Americans are dead. They only ever pop up in presidential speeches or racist Rush Limbaugh tirades.

Al Jazeera recently covered the issue of endangered wolves in the United States and did an amazing job of it. More so than any sort of conservative propaganda could, you are able to empathize with the farmer Druska and her husband Richard, who make their living by feeding America. A couple thousand wolves is alot more than it sounds like and I can empathize personally with the farmers, as while growing up in Seattle I had a pet cat lost to a small pack of coyotes that had their way into town.

With the Environmental Protection Agency's offices located in a distant Washington D.C., where most food is found conveniently packaged and the thought of its origin completed wiped from the consumer, it becomes clear where the gulf of experience arrises from.

There is an organization called Wolf Haven which does make homes for grey wolves, and it would have been good to have heard from them in this report in order to give an element of civil society as a bridge between rural farmers and the bureaucratic state. Check out their website and provide your thoughts.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's Not Just "Our S.O.B.s" Faliing In the Middle East

Keep in mind that America's bestest friends in Saudi Arabia have yet to face a rebellion. If the wave of revolutions were simply fueled by anti-Americanism, Saudi Arabia would likely be a centerpiece and Libya wouldn't be the player that it is.

Also, keep in mind that pressure on Iran has been arriving from more parties than just John Bolton and American policy hawks. While walking in Bellevue, Washington very recently I came upon this man, who had really harsh words for the regime in Iran:


Photobucket

The things this man said to me were very politically incorrect, as he said, "When Islam and the government mix, it's like a disease," before adding, "I'm a Muslim."

The most apt analogy that I actually heard about the Arab Spring actually came surprising from the Marxist Tariq Ali. This was before Libya became a player, which may mess with his ideology, since Ali is a firm supporter of Hugo Chavez, a close ally of Qaddafi. Ali compared the uprisings with the revolutions of 1848, which stretched from Italy to Denmark. Many of the revolutions were put down but resulted in very strong social and cultural change within Europe.

The revolutions occurring in the Middle East may be just as significant. The Middle East has tried all sorts of different policy options beside democracy and pluralism. They've tried religious extremism, American clientelism and Arab nationalism. They now are left with liberalism. That comes with all sorts of social impacts that many in the Middle East aren't going to be comfortable with, including cracks in the firm wall that exists between men and women in most countries of the region, but globalization and the availability of information from around the world makes the unwavering manner of Middle Eastern society alot weaker. How it will all end up is anyone's guess but like Europe in the latter half of the nineteenth century, it will look alot different.


Spectruming Out By Myself

I have Asperger's syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. This has resulted in a sort of epic chaos in my life of insanely ridiculous events that seem to somehow have something to do with my crazed mental state, from getting hit by a rock in the head as a four year year old to having a barbell thrown at my head as a teenager, with everyone from gym teachers to principals screaming at the top of their longs at me in the interum.

For whatever weird stuff is going on in this brain of mine, it's resulted in me being quite dexterous with words. The words simply pop off out of my mind from some sort of mental catalogue. I imagine that I may easily have been a rapper, and I partly love rap music because it's filled with people who seem to share this odd talent. I'm able to pick words out of my head that aren't regularly used in the common vernacular and then formulate them in a manner that makes sense, with no instruction on how to do it or formal training. I can't explain it.

One thing that is clear about Asperger's syndrome is that it makes me really happy to be alone. As much as I try to make it in the social world, it's exhausting and cumbersome at best. The strongest bonds seem to break and the bonds you're left with are ones you didn't expect to last.

Recent months have really reminded me of my love for being alone. I'm in my hometown of Seattle and finishing up an online course. I have money in the bank and am able to spend my time alone. It's amazing. I can go work out, walk or by groceries and listen to the radio and read comic books. I can work on my writing and keep the social world completely under my control.
It reminds me all very much of when I was a little kid. At only about eight or nine years old, I would walk to the local movie theater and watch films by myself. The process was easy enough and all the rules in doing so made sense. There were never any problems. It was only in school that problems arose, and likewise in the workplace.

I can imagine that Temple Grandin's work with animals provide a very similar vindication and great alone time for her, and I envy her for that. For all the bending over backwards that schools do to try to get kids with Asperger's situated in their messed up system, some means of just having them left alone - from screaming teachers and bullying students - is really what is simply wanted. Of course, that is probably too simple for this world, but I can dream.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Pacific Northwest's Aryan Separatists

Just in case you were living in Washington or Oregon and thinking wistfully that you were free of the bigotry of the deep south or the soft apartheid of the northeast, you're wrong. Appearing now is the group Northwest Front, an Aryan separatist group out of the Pacific Northwest:

The Northwest Front is a political organization of Aryan men and women who recognize that an independent and sovereign White nation in the Pacific Northwest is the only possibility for the survival of the White race on this continent.

The founding fathers of the United States would be far closer to being White Nationalists than to any of the other political groups of today. The men who drafted the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution were all White. They shared a common cultural background, and none of them wanted racial mixing.

We don’t stand for hating people, we stand for freeing people, our people, from a yoke of tyranny and oppression that has become impossible for us to live with. We stand for preserving our race from biological and cultural extinction.

The Northwest Front is about building a new, better society where everyone contributes, everyone benefits, and all share a common set of values and cultural beliefs and a common ethnic heritage.


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Monday, March 7, 2011

Kid Rock Advocates For Detroit

Back when I was about twelve or something like that, Kid Rock and Eminem jumped on to the scene. A rambunscious troublesome white kid in the Central District of Seattle, I instantly took with these two guys. They're both very different and have gone in very different directions with their music (which probably could not have been foreseen back then) but they both reek of loyalty to their hometown, Detroit, a city that is besmerched and looked down upon throughout the country.

I don't know how much comparison I can make here but when I was growing up in Seattle, it was alot different than it is now. Seattle looked alot more like the "hick town" it used to often get referred to and bowling alleys, fisheries, hardware stores, military bases and breweries were the blue collar fair before the city exploded with coffee shops, the biotech industry and Microsoft.

I've talked earlier about the steady gentrification of Seattle's historically black and immigrant areas. I can easily imagine, if industry had not taken off as it did, that Seattle could have gone downhill fast and wound up looking alot like Detroit, with airplane manufacturing and the military being the ghost industry instead of automobiles. Some areas, like Glenn Beck's hometown, steadily deteriorated into nothing more than shopping malls. Who then would have been the advocates for Seattle? Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and the guys with Them Crooked Vultures? TCV is vintage Seattle, harkening back to Murder City Devils and the post-punk that dominated Seattle before hipsterdom came into vogue.

Like Seattle and its sister city Portland, which also has experienced substantial rebirth, perhaps it is worth looking at Detroit and similar downtrodden cities (Oakland being a great example). The cities that created America's past aren't really pushing forward innovation (Washington D.C. and San Francisco are great examples of this) and change is brought about by a strange new cast of characters instead of the old guarde.

So with the endorsement of native sons Kid Rock and Eminem, maybe it's worth the time of journalists, investors and others to give another look at Detroit. To have produced such substantial talent in the depths of economic depravity shows that they have something that cities like Boston or San Francisco don't. That talent should be harnessed for a new America.



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Monday, February 28, 2011

Porn, Porn, Porn

Politics is pretty dumb when you get down to it and the best way to understand the society we live in is through articles like this one, "Why Lesbian Port Is the Best," at Alternet. It focuses on Jincey Lumpkin, the creator of Juicy Pink Box, a lesbian pornography company.

The article is a really interesting take down of modern pornography as well, and, being a left-wing journal, looks more at the sociology of porn and comes to a none too shocking conclusion:

The epitome of straight porn is Bang Bros, a production company founded in 2000 that has 18 active porn sites and uses a “gonzo” filming style. It’s unclear if this “gonzo” style is real or not; Bang Bros Corp did not return my e-mails or phone calls to answer that question. Since Bang Bros don’t appear to be facing criminal investigation, it’s likely acted out, like “reality” TV.

One video I watched opens with a van and two men: one behind the camera, the other driving. They start talking to a young man and woman who are on their way to lunch. The cameraman asks a woman wearing a short mini skirt and a tight top if she usually dresses like “that” for work. She responds no, she was just picking up her paycheck. They ask her if she knows why they are filming her and she doesn't know. They look at the young guy, who looks a bit sheepish and says, “He didn't tell you?” The men laugh, and the woman looks confused.

At this point, nausea washes over me. The three actors finally get her in the van. It takes what felt like 30 minutes of laughter and awkwardness for the two men who approached the woman with the camera to finally tell her that they are a porn company and want to film her having sex with the man. Finally, they coax her into it. I almost had to turn it off because it made me so uncomfortable.

The video is a typical mainstream porno portraying the man and woman in the back of the van. I could say they had intercourse, but that doesn't quite feel right. She “gets it.” It's nauseating.

I'll be a completely honest man and say publicly that I have watched my share of porn. It releases tension, something men are just genetically endowed with in spades. I've only watched Bang Bros. a few times and, like the writer, I was a bit disgusted by it. The one time I watched it there was literally a scene in which the woman featured started to talk about where she came from (she was Puerto Rican) and the man in the scene interrupted and said, "Hey honey, I don't care where you come from. That's not why you're here." Yeah, and they make money off of that.

If you've ever seen The Big Lebowski (a film that literally seems to provide quotable logic for everything in life, like some sort of religious scripture), you'll know the character of Jackie Treehorn. Treehorn, while mixing a poisoned drink for Jeff Bridges' character, waxes about the decline of the porn industry. "Now that we're competing those amateurs, we can't afford to invest in little extras like story, production value, feelings."

That's why modern porn is really, really awful, with an average of five minutes, you're now looking at an industry filled with porn made in the style of a skateboarding video or an episode of Jackass. The description "adult entertainment" seems inappropriate, because there's nothing adult about it, and if you're an actual adult, it's probably not that entertaining.

Possibly because it's a feminist tinged article that she is writing, Lisa Gillespie went to the netherworld of Bang Bros. and didn't look at the strange product of Naughty America. Naughty America is a weird enterprise. They create pornographic movies that often weigh in at around half an hour and use the five minute viewing medium as promotion of their actual product.

Unlike BangBros, Naughty America flips the narrative script of porn. Instead of the man talking an unrelenting woman into having sex, which understandably made Gillespie very uncomfortable, the opposite occurs. Naughty America is filled with alpha females - feminists of the Nicki Minaj variety instead of the Maud Lebowski variety - who are often talking cowardly, recessive men into having sex with them. It's fantasy of course, as marketed porn generally is, but their product is one that seems far less tilted in the direction of extreme male fantasy.

Still, Naughty America is largely for a male audience, not a female one or even an equitable one,unlike the product that Lumpkin produces:

“The mainstream industry excludes male homosexuality, puts straight male desire in charge of female homosexuality, whilst the straight woman is just a reflection of the male desire, not showing own feelings, desires, wishes, decisions, except for serving straight male needs for a ridiculously unrealistic stereotype of manhood and male desire,” Lust says. “So as I didn't see myself in those porn films, I also thought that there must be a lot of men quite bored with those dull images. I figured that if I wanted a different [kind of] porn, I had to do it myself.”

She produces longer films, usually at least an hour long (porn these days is usually no more than five minutes long) with actors paired with other actors of the both sexes. She says she recognizes that men also have a need for more realistic and less objectifying porn.

“Less and less people are willing to buy their low quality films as you get this stuff for free on the net quite easily, while more and more people discover our productions,” Lust says. “For a female audience, there needs to be female characters to identify with that realistically are driven by desires and wishes that real women have. It's more balanced; it's like objectifying and being objectified: giving and taking. Like it is in sex: you give pleasure, and you get your share.”


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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Liberal Lack of Persuasion

Like Genghis, I have been emerged in the world of the Right, a world that most progressives only hear about second hand. Unlike Genghis, I was not emerged in it because I was writing a polemical book on the subject but because I agreed with many of the core premises.

What was one of those core premises? An issue that is exploding in completely the wrong way in the state of Wisconsin. Public employee unions, the core base of Democratic fundraising, are caught in the ire of a Republican governor who knows just how influential they are in policy making. The right makes the power of teacher’s unions a chief crossroads issue because they know the large scale dissatisfaction with public schools on the part of parents, students and everyone except those receiving a paycheck due to the whole enterprise.

I had a column in a local Seattle newspaper several years ago and I spent nearly a year both expelling pent up anger and looking at the core of what is wrong with public education. I grew up in a very progressive area, have liberal family and friends and only knew a handful of conservatives or libertarians, none of whom were people I cared for that much. However, for purely intellectual reasons, the more I looked at the problem, the more all the answers that came out were “right wing.” This is the essential core paradox of modern American education politics, if you advocate change in how public education operates, you are a conservative. If you shout about the welfare of teachers as if that job description automatically translates to saint status and are opposed to charter schools, online schools, vouchers, tenure reform or any other solution that would better serve students and want the system to remain as it has largely been for one hundred years, you’re a progressive. It’s bizarre.

If you’ve read what I’ve just written, you could understandably write me off as someone with an axe to grind. Sure, there is a bit of that. I was bullied non stop by both staff and students at schools, having large backpacks and barbells thrown at my head. I saw incompetent and abusive staff hit kids, badmouth disabled children and bounce around from school to school, just like the infamous “Rubber Rooms” made famous by the film Waiting for Superman. That’s what the SEIU seeks to preserve and charter schools and tenure reform are what they seek to oppose. Ever wonder why so many school violence occurs? It’s not about guns, as easy as it is to blame that. It’s because bullying is routine and educational establishments are more concerned with paychecks, logistics and technocratic issues than making sure children are in a safe, encouraging environment that doesn’t resemble a downgraded prison.

If you understand that sentiment, try projecting it to other issues. On a national level, progressives appear as austere, condescending, judgmental technocrats who want the broad populace to adhere to their standards without ever taking the time to understand where the people they make demands of are coming from. Nobody likes to be talked to like they’re stupid and as long as progressives continue along that line, books like What’s the Matter With Kansas?, asking why on earth so much of America votes against its economic self-interest, will be written by folks that have two feet permanently locked in an echo chamber.

Genghis touches exactly on this when he says, “Not only do many people here ignore the larger world that simply does not buy into many liberal ideas, they don't even attempt to persuade one another, preferring to insult the very people that they need to on their side.” That reminds me all too much of a professor I had, a disciple of the 1960s Bay Area school of left wing demagoguery. I had actually met him right after working for a conservative think tank, where I had become disillusioned upon hearing the n-word regularly leveled by a co-worker, right in proximity to one of the country’s worst urban ghettoes and during a time when reports came out of Tea Partiers hurling that same epithet at members of congress.

Coming back to the Bay Area to finally finish my Bachelor’s Degree, I wanted to help out minorities. The disgust of being in such proximity to full-on racists made me feel guilty. I had seen up close that the level of flat out racist groups on the right was rising and wanted to expose it. This journalism professor saw my interest in the subject as racist itself, shouted the n-word several times at me and literally drove me to the point of swearing back and quitting his class, something I hadn’t done before. I was there, ripe for taking and conversion, and this guy was so hooked on demonizing everyone that moved that he couldn’t help but do it again. The piece that I wrote on white nationalists in the Bay Area eventually got published at Little Green Footballs. I'm actually quite proud of it. I’ll let you decide if it was racist or not.

In contrast to the Left’s technocracy and condescension, the Right talks to the personal. While the Left makes films about global warming and talks about carbon footprints and sustainability, the Right appeals to everyday people through figures like Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and Rick Warren, who largely spend their shows and sermons instructing their audience on how to live their everyday lives for their betterment.

If one reflects truly on the successful progressive movements in American history, it seems quite fitting that they talked to the personal. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. portrayed racial equality as befitting to simple, basic decency. Southern populists like Huey Long succeeded in building public works by portraying hoarders of wealth as selfish and stealing from the people. They didn't belittle those they were trying to convince or make them feel like pions.

This is really all basic psychology. You're not going to convince someone of anything by screaming at them and making them feel like dirt. That so many overeducated people seem to have lost this concept is pretty damning for those who exalt education.

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Qaddafi: Hopeless

gaddafi / Hopeless

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Scorpion's Gate



Do you remember Richard Clarke? He was a terrorism expert who left the Bush administration in anger and frustration, seeing the administration as fixated on carrying out an invasion of Iraq instead of curbing terrorism.

Clarke wrote a memoir, Against All Enemies, that received alot of fanfair. Of all of the betrayals that the Bush administration experienced, Clarke's was the strongest, in his expertise being on terrorism and the Middle East - the issues that were crystallizing George W. Bush's presidency.

After he wrote the memoir, he wrote several thriller novels. The first one, The Scorpion's Gate, portrayed Saudi Arabia overthrown by Islamists:

It's 2010, and the newly established Republic of Islamyah; the former Saudi Arabia; is trying to destabilize Bahrain: the Diplomat Hotel has been bombed, and, as the first chapter of this intense debut thriller closes, the Crowne Plaza is "pancaking." Meanwhile, the deposed House of Saud is holed up in Houston; the Chinese are providing arms and training to Islamyah; the Iranians have the bomb. Secretary of Defense Henry Conrad thinks the time is ripe to invade Islamyah and seize its oil, for which the U.S. is locked in deadly competition with China. Cooler heads in the U.S. (and British) hierarchies are very, very alarmed. Sound familiar? Clarke's Against All Enemies delivered an apostate critique of the Bush administration's counterterrorism efforts, along with a vision of the future very much like today. The writing's nothing special; what is special is Clarke's passionate and deftly detailed version of the present, albeit one told in terms of its consequences. It's a brilliant conceit, and though it's sometimes drowned out by the din of various axes being ground ("It''s 68 degrees [in Washington]on January 28 and the White House still claims that global warming isn't a problem?"), the story is crowded with terrific double crosses, defections and deceptions. They're icing, though: Clarke's dramatic micro explanations of how things "really" work; from a hand who served Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes;are the true story. This is the first novel to shift all the way from Clancy's Cold War to the present war on terror.

The timing - 2010 - is ominous in that Clarke was only one year off. And how on earth could Clarke have known that Bahrain would start to destabilize on its own, without outside intervention? Or that numerous countries throughout the region would experience revolutions simultaneously?

If you're interested further, The Scorpion's Gate is for sale through the Amazon.com widget on the right side of this blog.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Shadeism

There's a really incredible phenomenon of discrimination within communities of color based on the degree of "shade." I had heard of this before but had never heard an actual term for it: shadeism.

This video on "shadeism" was posted by a friend of mine, Aneesah Dryver, who runs a blog on relationships. Aneesah said when posting it, "I've had to deal with shadeism growing up. Thank God I grew to love my beautiful dark skin tone. I hope little girls learn that they are still beautiful even though they don't look like the girls in the videos, magazines, etc

Shadeism from Shadeism on Vimeo.

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Bill Gothard's Submission Theology

AlterNet has an expansive expose of Bill Gothard, a Christian sect that preaches submission to the man in the family, as the unquestionable authority:

Vyckie Garrison, who runs the website No Longer Quivering, “a gathering place for women escaping and recovering from spiritual abuse,” told me that she and her now ex-husband, although they lacked the money to attend Gothard’s seminars, followed his teachings through his homeschool curricula. She said her husband had believed, based on Gothard’s teachings, that he was responsible for his family’s salvation through the authority he exercised over his family, a role which turned him into a “tyrant.”

That story sounds quite a bit like the same family narrative that has affected many Muslim women whose male relatives or husbands have accepted the more extreme doctrines. The call for "submission" especially recalls the most potent criticisms of Islam.

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Bigotry As Comfort

This article recently ran at Talking Points Memo's Book Club, in promotion of Michael Wolraich's book Blowing Smoke. You can purchase it as a Deschamps associate by clicking the widget to the right.

I like Michael's description of Beck as "rationalizing" bigotry.

There's a video of Beck discussing the infamous Father Charles Coughlin and dismissing comparisons between him and the two. In the video, he notes that Coughlin viewed poverty and inequality as a chief issue, which differentiates him from the Ayn Rand touting Beck. The lack of self-awareness shows as he continues to describe Coughlin, saying that Coughlin believed the Great Depression was caused by a "cabal of international bankers" who worked in tandem to usurp "American sovereignty." That that was the basic argument of his George Soros obsession seems to be lost in the midst of Beck's self-awareness deficit. Beck's alleged cabal of bankers is likewise overwhelmingly Jewish and his frequent use of Nazi imagery, and his use of screenshots of the Sinai peninsula (Go back and watch the video for yourself. It's right there in the open.) while talking about Soros is an act of blowing the fascist dog whistle louder than it's been blown in a long, long time. We'd have to be able to catch Beck in private to know if he uses derogatory terms for Jews, but from the outside it seems to rationalizes old, indeed ancient, anti-Semitic arguments by substituting "progressive" for "Jew." As his fans at the white nationalist website Stormfronthave put it, Beck goes "as close as you can get to naming the Jew without actually naming the Jew."

There's so many more examples of his rationalization of bigotry, as Michael has put it, and Charles Johnson and I have documented them pretty well. The rationalization threatens to cascade into the avenues that may even surprise, however. Even with significant disillusion with the right wing, stories such as the effort of House Republicans to legally redefine "rape" to "forcible rape" continue to astonish. As a female friend said, this is apparently justified because "in the whole 'I'm a poor defenseless man,' world, rape is a tool used by nubile young women to trap defenseless older men."

As Michael put it, it's no longer about proving that Beck and the Tea Party brigadiers carry bigoted resentment but explaining it. It seems as if, at least on an unconscious level, significant levels of the population have bought into the paradigm that racism and bigotry is okay now that WASPs are no longer in total control in society. This could possibly explain the adoption of terms like "ruling class" by Rush Limbaugh just as he makes crude imitations of Chinese accents.

The decline of America as a superpower plays into all of this. Americans have not felt a strong need to think about the rest of the world for a long time, and the country's untouchable hegemony seemed to vindicate that. Now Americans are losing jobs to people halfway across the world who actually speak more than one language, have a stronger work ethic and are willing to work for less. The irrationality of racism and stereotypes provides a comfort that at least you're still superior to the people you're losing out to. You can see this in clips where Glenn Beck proclaims that there are no working toilets in India.

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Fall of Empire, End to Wars: Johan Galtung's Predictions


More from Johan Galtung:


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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Comics Will Rot Your Brains!!



A couple years ago, I set up a booth at a flea market in order to get rid of a huge number of comic books. I wasn't giving up the medium or anything like that but was instead trying to clear house of a good deal of comics that I'd acquired during a comic shop's going out of business sale in the mid-90s. The comics were mostly published by the now-defunct Malibu Comics and were published during the 1990s, easily one of the lowest points in comic book publishing history. I just wanted them off my hands.

I was struck by a hostility from older people at what I was selling. I kept hearing, "You know, these things will rot your brains" being said by grown men in a serious tone of voice. At the time I thought they were just "old," but in retrospect most of these nervous pervises were Baby Boomers. They were kids during the Red Scare, which was also a time when comic books were tackled by demagogic lawmakers and imposed with a rating system called the Comics Code Authority. (While mainstream publishers like Marvel Comics have abandoned the Comics Code, it can still be found on the covers of Archie Comics.)

In a recent Reason magazine article, writer Brian Doherty reviewed the book The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America by David Hajdu. Doherty writes that Hajdu argues that the comic book genre was subjected to a witch hunt by lawmakers, churches and academics comparable to the ones that took on Elvis Presley and communists. Hajdu's argument makes sense in explaining why so many Baby Boomers were getting freaked out about the comic books I was selling at that flea market. The book describes kids that beat up other kids who were caught with comic books. Were some of those bullies at that flea market?

Doherty notes that this may not seem relevant to the average reader but it should. Similar assaults have been made on music and video games and will likely continue towards new entertainment mediums in the future. Recall Tipper Gore, the wife of former presidential candidate Al Gore, and her Parents Music Resource Center or Hillary Clinton's efforts to legislate against violent video games.

Comic book companies are still being assaulted by moralist authoritarians in this country, and organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have been set up to aid poor comic book creators that are defending themselves in court against bullying censors. While there are a few pretty racy comic books out there (both in regards to sexual and violent content), comic book publishers do a pretty good job of making it evident on the cover. Marvel has many "All Ages" lines that are tame and fine for little kids. In contrast to that, they have also set up a line called "MAX" that is clearly aimed at teenage and older readers. Comics that don't fall into those lines but have mature or older content are usually labeled as such. Like any medium, be it video games or movies, what ends up in the hands of kids falls down to the individual parent or guardian who is buying it or the retailer who is selling it, and not the publisher, who has little control over where their comics end up.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Johnny Lee Clary On Pat Robertson's 700 Club

Johnny Lee Clary is actually a pretty great guy. I recommend looking him up and watching video of him. It'll make your day better.


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Friday, February 18, 2011

Rep. Paul Broun: Abortions Have Killed More Black Babies Than Any Other Babies

This is really bizarre. George Orwell reiterated throughout his career that politics was the perversion of language and the layman should really keep this in mind when watching a video like this one of Rep. Paul Broun, where he inserts into his speech political jargon long unused in the mainstream like "eugenics" and "colored:"


You have to really wonder about the Republican Party. While President Obama runs away from any dialogue on race as much as he can, Michelle Bachman, the above Rep. Proun, Glenn Beck, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other right wing groups seem to be injecting into their dialogue as much as they can.

Inside Story: Libya

Al Jazeera English provides a half hour documentary on the ascent of democratic uprisings in Libya, where Muammar Qaddafi has been in power for forty years:


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Bracing For A Sun Storm

This is very interesting. Over at Disinformation, they're rushing a bit towards the armageddon diagnosis:

A massive solar flare could make for a beautiful night for people in the northern United States – provided it doesn’t knock the lights out.

The blast of charged particles unleashed from the sun earlier this week has been peppering the Earth over the last few days, but it’s biggest punch is expected to hit the Earth’s atmosphere on Thursday.

Monday’s eruption, considered an X-class flare, is the biggest solar flare in four years. It is already being blamed for disrupting radio communication in China, and could potentially affect power grids and satellite communication around the globe.

However, for the United States, the most likely outcome from this latest space storm could be a colorful night sky over New England and even parts of New York State.




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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Scott Brown Tells All

This is really interesting:

Brown, 51, has written a book, “Against All Odds,” in which he also recounts physical abuse at the hands of several stepfathers. In the interview, he recounts an instance when he contemplated buying a house where he lived with one of his stepfathers so that he could “burn it down” as a cathartic act.


At Truthdig, a blogger asks "Is it just us, or does the publication of a revealing memoir, including details of childhood molestation and abuse, by a first-term senator herald yet another sea change in the game of political publicity?" It does indeed seem a bit odd, and to be blunt Scott Brown does seem rather odd. I actually met him in Washington D.C. and he seemed very congenial. He stood out a bit not just because of all the cameramen around but because he was very polite to the owners of local restaurants and other individuals who are technically "beneath" him.

Confessing personal demons also seems like a significantly more constructive act than what farther to the Right Republicans like Haley Barbour have been using their time doing (or not doing). Surely speaking about his experiences can help others who have had similar experiences to open up about theirs.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Racial Controversy Hits Haley Barbour

In the latest racially charged incident in his home state, Haley Barbour on Tuesday drew fire when he refused to condemn a proposal honoring a Klu Klux Klan leader and Confederate general on a state license plate.

"I don't go around denouncing people. That's not going to happen," Barbour, who is considering a run for the White House in 2012, said when asked about the plate, the Associated Press reported. "I know there's not a chance it'll become law."


CNN also has video of the governor saying "he's a historical figure" when asked about the issue. Just in case you get the idea from above that Barbour doesn't go around using strong words about anything, here's him on February 12 (only days ago) talking about the Obama administration and the Muslim Brotherhood:

Washington (CNN) - Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Saturday he was "mortified" to hear a top Obama administration official describe Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood as a "largely secular organization."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made the remark in testimony before a House panel on Tuesday. His office later clarified the statement through a spokeswoman, saying that the Muslim Brotherhood was participating in Egypt's secular political system and that Clapper "is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization."


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Monday, February 14, 2011

Education: The Myth of US Superiority

From the Alyona Show:



Keep in mind while watching that the boos that Kentucky senator Rand Paul received when he talked about taking a good look at the military budget.

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Chinatown In Kurdistan?

This video is really fascinating reporting from Al Jazeera. Chinese foreign direct investment would be expected in an area that is so rich in natural resources but immigration of Chinese and a market for Chinese cultural goods seems like a whole other step towards liberalism.


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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Who Are The Welfare Queens?

Also posted at Little Green Footballs and Dagblog.

Goldy, a Seattle based reporter and blogger, did a concise read of where money was being generated and where it was being spread to in Washington state:


A friend of mine is in the Libertarian Party of Georgia. We have regular talks about politics, especially that of his state, where the budget gap has actually been filled due to the help of stimulus dollars from the federal government. When I said that he'd better not tell the Republicans in his state that, he said the party is all rhetoric.

Washington is not an anomaly. Rural states in Georgia also eat all public dollars while hollering about tax paying and fiscal responsibility. At the federal level, this hypocrisy continues in spades as red states dominate the list of federal spending per dollar of federal taxes, with New Mexico, Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana and West Virginia topping the list.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Glenn Beck Reveals The Root Of Modern Socialism: The Pop Star Fabian

Cross posted at Dagblog.



In another captivating expose of the deceit of the liberal class, Glenn Beck revealed that the plot for modern day communist rule started with the most innocent seeming of figures: the late 1950s/early 1960s teen heartthrob Fabian.

Beck cited lyrics to Fabian's song "This Friendly World" to illustrate the British Fabian Socialists shared more than just a name. "In this song he asks 'Why should any heart be lonely?' and 'Why should any heart be afraid?' His words, not mine. Well, Mr. Fabian lover boy, where have I heard that before? Equality, freedom from fear, Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights, Karl Marx. No, not Saul Alinsky, it's something earlier than that. Lucifer!"

Later in Beck's chilling documentary, which was of impressive Frontline quality, Glenn Beck connected the dots between Fabian, whose career peaked in the early 1960s, and the Fabian Society, which coincidentally was the same period in which the Young Fabians were created. "By making fan clubs for heartthrobs like Fabian and socialist indoctrination camps indistinguishable, Fabian socialists were able to indoctrinate young Americans like Barack Obama's mother, who then marries a Kenyan and turns against her Nixon-voting parents. Fabian was the first community organizer," Beck said. "Do your own research. You think I'm crazy? Go to hell."



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Algeria's police crack down on protesters

From Al Jazeera:



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