Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Self-Pity Party

Now, as a fairly archetypal WASP male, I have sometimes been keenly aware that I have received preference somewhat past my objective desserts. Nobody has ever said, 'Hey, straight white man, come right in here -- stand aside you brown people, queers and females.' But I'd have to be pretty oblivious not to note the many ways in which I've been welcomed to the club, just for showing up on time and in the right clothes. Indeed, the whole culture is so rigged for the the white folks that in many instances people like me enjoy a ghostly invisibility had by none other; we can walk through social walls, fail upward through glass ceilings, and nobody, not even the burly black guys hired to keep the rifraff out, ever says 'What the fuck is that guy doing here?'

But I must say, I'm often not very proud of my brethren. Too many white folks seem far more oblivious than even myself to the fact that that they enjoy a a lot of benefits that they did nothing to deserve. Rather than recognize their karmic debt, their noblesse oblige, they insist ferociously that they are entitled to every conceivable perk, prerogative and privilege, in view of their merits; it's all the smooth working of a Panglossian meritocracy. The Best of All Possible Worlds! is the one where they're born on third base, and left to think they're hit a triple -- as was said of their patron saint, George W. He is their paragon and true Fuhrer, for if ever there was reverse-affirmative action, an utter mediocrity given absolutely ultimate promotion by a biased system, he is its exemplar.

These angry white boys, so absolutely entitled, so jealous for their fantasized meritocracy, nonetheless raise as their prophets and prostrate themselves before the most banal individuals our society has to offer; shoeshine/haircut entities like Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, and of course virtually every Republican politician. And now, in the Santomayor affair they're going apeshit with charges of racism which is rather like Limbaugh attacking someone as fat.

It's pathetic really, whiny little pricks are so threatened by the thought of anyone else getting his (and especially her) way that they feel victimized. As I have said before these little assholes feel so universally entitled that they event want to claim victim status whenever possible. The rule of law, justice enacted by pure reason, these are threatened apparently by a judge with empathy. Please. None of these characters gives a rat's ass about the rule of law, unless by that we mean keeping the brown people down. And empathy? Of course they hate empathy, and in fact anything that might reduce their capacity for self-pity.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Incredible Shrinking President

I have to admit that even I was surprised to see, in the face-off with Cheney, such vivid confirmation that the President Obama is not only unprincipled and gutless, but he’s also pretty stupid too. Why would Obama elect here – be in such haste even – to go on the record first? Why make the President the warm-up and Cheney then the key-note? This seems the strategic equivalent of the New York Air Force 2 flyover. I suppose going first might be thought a good thing by one totally spineless, sparing one as it does the opportunity and responsibility of rebutting to Cheney’s lies point by point (Think of the shock headlines: President Calls Cheney Liar! Limbaugh calls for return to civility.) But it also further emboldens Cheney, and removes any temptation the former Fuhrer might have to leaven his rhetoric with truth. I mean, why should he hold back? If the President’s not going to call bullshit on him who is? David Gregory? Chuck Todd?

Of course Obama’s performance yesterday was completely consistent with the cluelessness that led up to it. Long ago his whole immunizing stance (“looking forward” lest we remember….) announced to Cheney et alia, that he and Holder lacked the will to take them on. (I know it’s not the President’s call exactly – but this situation recalls a criticism of Holder’s record: he’s a total yes-man for the President.) It’s quite probable that Cheney would have been a lot more circumspect, and less prone to go on record legitimizing torture with his boasting lies, if he thought there were a real chance he might be held accountable for his crimes. But absent that concern, emboldened by his opponent’s refusal to attack him where he’s weakest, why wouldn’t he go on the offensive to rebuild his image and his party’s brand? It’s not like he’s going to have a change of heart. Obama’s “looking forward” evasion immediately made any accountability less likely, interlocking with and endorsing the GOP’s favorite meme: prosecution of Republicans’ crimes is criminalizing policy differences. The abandonment of the Ted Steven’s prosecution, and inexplicable endorsement of the Don Siegelman atrocity reinforces that sense.

In Obama’s speech there were, as usual, some very good and well-articulated points. But they were largely undercut by his recent actions, failures to act, and his proposals (preventive detention?) within the same speech. Thanks to Obama I now find myself in agreement with some people I would normally wish to spit on, like Bill Kristol: “Obama’s is the speech of a young senator who was once a part-time law professor–platitudinous and preachy, vague and pseudo-thoughtful in an abstract kind of way. . . .” Kristol is right in at least this small point, because Obama talks the talk, but that’s it. Platitude becomes principle when it’s enacted, and only then.

Obama talks incessantly about “the rule of law,” just as Bush talked all the time about “freedom.” This is indicatve of how Obama merely continues Bush’s Owellian lingual and adminsitrative practice, for freedom retreats precisely to the degree that government officials exert authority with impunity to legal penalty or remedy. To the degree that the state is ruled by the law, and not by the men who fill its offices, the people who elect those men are free. But again and again Obama sides with the autocrats: the official shall have secrecy and impunity, the people shall have neither privacy, nor redress. The official, whether following orders, issuing them, or concocting legal cover for them, shall pay no penalty, ever. And yet we’ll march forward under Obama’s “rule of law,” so long as we undertand that it’s just a suggestion, a rough guideline, as it were.

A question for the President: how is it serving the rule of law to imprison without trial some people who “can’t be prosecuted” and refusing to try others who openly admit to war crimes?
Some say that Obama is just being extremely circumspect. That he wants to do the right thing, but like FDR, he wants us to make him do it. That way he’s not out there on the limb of high principle all by himself. I doubt this more and more as time goes on. I fear, with a revulsion close to nausea, that President Obama, is all too similar to George Bush – another empty suit with a will to power, and not the slightest idea what to do with it, nor what it does to him. He seems to me, more and more, an “in the rear with the gear” desk-jockey, rather than the leader we need now, the leader he promised us.

Perhaps now is the time to urge all the elderly Supreme Court Justices to step aside. I still have faith Obama will appoint decent replacements for them. I have no faith he won’t blow it so badly his own replacement will be a Republican. At present rate, he won’t get my vote again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guilty As Charged!

Actual proof that Jonah Goldberg is right! Liberals are fascists. The Lobbyist lives in a building in the most brie-eating, chardonnay-swilling, Obama-loving, torture-hating neighborhood probably in the the whole Universe, and the epicenter of all this Prius-driving DC godlessness is probably The Lobbyist's own building where Republicans would be spat on if they ever came around wearing their party armbands, or if the liberals who live there weren't just basically too nice, whichever. But anyway -- visitors to this building will be confronted at the front door with numerous actual (well, sculptural, but nonetheless overt and unmistakable) fasces such as the one depicted here. So there! Liberal Fascism, QED.

I'm inwardly thrilled! I'm going over to the Lobbyist's place tonight and we'll gleefully plot up some taxing and spending. maybe some gay marrying and gun confiscation too. Maybe the Bin Ladens next door will join us for roast Christian!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Pimp's Prerogative

So President Obama thinks we should open our minds and hearts on the abortion issue. Okay. How about if we open our minds to the notion that "pro-life" activists don't give a rat's ass about life. What they are all about is power, specifically the pleasure of power, of effortlessly enforcing their whimsical preferences onto the most private affairs of others, while at the same time congratulating themselves on their moral sensitivity and superiority. Virtually all of these sanctimonious people have no problem with bombing actual children, with trying them as adults, with letting them starve and die of cheaply curable diseases -- and yet we're supposed to believe they care deeply about human life. In fact they're just exercising the Pimp's Prerogative. It all about "pussy control" and nothing but.

History Repeats Itself As Farce

From the very subversive, seditious, scabrous and funny Poor Man Institute we've got line of the day or week or decade: "We’ve got what amounts to a reverse Nuremberg defense, where Bush administration officials are let off the hook because they were only giving orders. "

From the same post we get the ultimate Faux/CrapNotNews story: OH MY GOD A SHARK ATE A WHITE LADY AT HER WEDDING!!!!!
They would do that one 24/7 for a year. Two years if she was demonstrably Christian.

Friday, May 15, 2009

CONfirmation Not Information

As people have been pointing out for some time: torture is most useful for eliciting false confessions from its victims. This is just in the nature of the enterprise: after all, you may not have endeared yourself to the person you're tormenting, so you can hardly trust that he or she has been persuaded to help you out with genuinely useful information. But, if you already know just what you want to hear from the torture victim -- for instance, that he has been in league with the Devil, or with Al Qaida -- then it's pretty easy to persuade a person to say anything, given a willingness to inflict torment. It bears the hallmark of the diabolically "sweet deal" too -- the "confession" retroactively justifies the method of its extraction. So it's not surprising that the Bushies hoped to use torture to confirm the falsehoods that they'd been selling the country. In fact, it may have been inevitable.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Keeping Abreast of Events

I'm thrilled at the newsflash: Miss California, Defender of Opposite-Sex Marriage, will keep her crown, despite having posed for lots and lots of seminude photos. The question arises, would she have kept her crown had she not been involved in this controversy. I've gotta admit, I liked her look, as intanced here, better before the implants.

In other news, the Philadelphia Inquisitioner is giving noted war-criminal John Yoo a regular gig as a columnist. It's one thing for a paper to pretend we didn't torture lots of people to death so Dick Cheney could feel all manly, (to deliberately ignore crimes); it's another thing when you actually give one of the criminals a job on your "newspaper" so he can influence the national discourse on his possible prosecution. That's getting into real banana republic territory.
In other news, the "Justice" Department of Barack Obambast has renewed its threat to withold lifesaving counterterrorism intelligence from our British allies, if British authorities reveal in court,as they are legally obliged to, the details of torture a British citizen suffered at Gitmo. Obama and Holder are really looking good for inclusion on Black Rushmore -- right up there with Colin, Clarence and Condi.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Medal of Freedom for Wanda Sykes!

What's the difference between Rush Limbaugh and the Hindenburg?

One's a fat bag of Nazi gas; the other's a dirigible.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Maybe It's Because They Suck

So Walter Pincus has an essay in Columbia Journalism Review about what't wrong with newspapers and why they are failing so colossally hereabouts. He makes some good points, but proves himself a little too close to his subject perhaps, by A.) telling us too much about Walter Pincus and his own heady days at the Times, his later chats with Phillip Graham etc. (rather odd in a piece entitled "Newspaper Narcissism") and B.) laying this steaming pile on us:

The Graham and Sulzberger families’ ownership of The Washington Post and The New York Times is, I believe, a major reason why these newspapers continue to provide quality journalism. But even they and their editors are nervous when accused of showing favoritism or antipathy toward one party or another.

Now, in fairness, Pincus himself is a pretty good reporter, but neither the Times nor the Post have been much good at informing the populace about what atrocities the GOP, the Christofascists, the Wall Streeters etc have wrought for the last few decades. As I have often said, it was readily apparent, even a matter of public record that W was a toxic bungler, and the puppet of same, long before he ever slimed his way into the White House, but none of the mainstream players told the booboisee this plain truth, and the rest is...infamy. So claims of"quality journalism" in our leading papers are pretty much out the window right there.

One thing Pincus doesn't really touch upon is the issue of trust. Newspaper stories, being subliterary and unfunny by design, rely for most of their appeal, their interest, their hypnotics, not on their usefulness to the reader, but on their documentrary claim , their veracity, their trustworthiness. A story has to be much more clever, shocking or weird to hold interest when we assume it may be fictional. But even a mildly weird or emblematic story can become compelling when we asume it's true -- the Urban Legend Effect. Think of all those Darwin Award stories that go around. They're scintillating when we assume they're real; nobody repeats them if they're revealed as bullshit. The bullshit quotient in contemporary journalism is going up up up (strongly correlated with its reliance on anonymous sources), so it just isn't that interesting anymore. Why would I buy or read something that's boring and apt to be bullshit?