They're afraid to fight. Well, more of them are willing to fight now, after the past four years (and that's definitely a positive development), but some unbelievably are still afraid to fight. When the going gets tough, they cave. In a situation where one's opponents are continually willing to escalate, this timidity is nothing but a recipe for perpetual failure.
So it's another cliffhanger. I don't think I'll be staying up all night. Just one more entry here and that's it.
No matter who wins, it's still necessary to exercise power from below in solidarity with the global anti-imperialist movement. There can be no mandate for imperialism.
To make a positive and hopeful statement against the disempowerment I felt from a system that limits my expression to choosing from between two choices presented to me by the establishment, I decided to dress entirely in red and black today. I did get some nice "I'm not alone" smiles at the food co-op from folks who understood the symbolism.
I wasn't going to attend the rally this evening, but got feeling so alone and isolated passively listening to the election returns on the radio that I decided to spend some time with people. I was dressed for the part, anyhow, so I made up a quick sign from an old Manila folder that said "All empires are evil" on one side and "There can never be a mandate for imperialism" on the other.
The first stop was the main entrance to the Marriott Hotel, where the GOP victory party was being held. Without trying very hard (honestly!), I ended up standing in the middle of one of the two "choke points" which were the only routes left unblocked for the Republicans to enter and leave. So they had to all walk right by a scruffy anarchist holding this sign in front of their faces.
As we were leaving, an obvious attendee (wearing a Bush/Cheney button), said "hi". So I said "hi" back and asked him if he was familiar with the works of Edmund Burke. He said no, I explained who Burke was, recommended him as an author, and also recommended the works of Mussolini as a comparison.
I made those choices because the distance between him and, say, Proudhon or Malatesta, would be so great that such works would have little or no relevance in his mind. You can't build Rome in a single day. In the unlikely event he'll follow up on the suggestion, he'll be treated to the mind-fuck of realizing how much more his party has in common with the father of fascism than it does with the father of conservatism. Which is a good start on a journey to somewhere more sane.
The Democrats were interesting because (a) they let us inside to march through their confabulation, and (b) the reactions from their kids. I could tell that we were making something click inside the minds of some of them. It takes far more than a protest march to convince someone, of course, but every journey must begin with a single step.
The very few kids at the Republican's party (aren't they the ones who keep saying they're the family values people?) were simply beyond hope. And creepy, in their junior-capitalist business attire. The Democrat's kids looked, well, like normal kids.
Despite Kerry's insistence that Ohio is still a toss-up, it looks like Monkey Boy has indeed been elected (note, not reelected) to office. He had better hope the Secret Service stays on the ball. The last time a president was elected in a highly polarized election with a high turnout was in 1960, and we all know how his term in office ended. I wasn't around then, but the feelings of polarization have got to be stronger this time.
Like it or not, assassination is one of the easiest forms of direct action to organize. All it takes is one assassin and one gun. That's it. And in a country of nearly 300 million, there's got to be at least one person willing to take on the assassin role somewhere.
So my prediction is that there is going to be at least one attempt on the Dubya's life.
It only took about an hour (had a good conversation with a longtime OSPIRG volunteer who was surprisingly radicalized and politically aware) for me to get tiref of tonight's protests. Part of it, of course, was last night's had already filled most of my desire for that sort of thing in the immediate term.
The other part was the pigs. I feel justified using that term based on behavior. Seth Tobocman has a good line in his book War in the Neighborhood about a police riot which goes something like "Suddenly, the cops became pigs." That describes tonight.
In one example, the pigs had occupied the block of Fifth Avenue between Morrison and Alder streets. So you'd think they wouldn't really care about pedestrians crossing Fifth against the light on the closed block. Think again. Not only that, the pigs were enforcing the light by riding mounted officers into the crowds with no warning whenever the light changed. Pepper spray was also used. Ugly.
And I'm just not in the mental space for that sort of thing right now. I was, however, glad to see a big turnout. It's indicitive of many folks having figured out the patent absurdity of any notion of a "mandate" for imperialist aggression. It looks like my worry of Bush winning and people being apathetic and mopey may be false.
If a liberal can write something like:
I understand why reconciliation is so tempting. Reconciliation is the Democratic way, the party's reflexive, knee-jerk reaction. "Can't we all just get along?" is the liberals' perpetual, passive password. They haven't figured out that reconciliation, in the pursuit of power, isn't the solution. Reconciliation is the problem.It's definitely an encouraging sign. Full story here.
I did a real good job of avoiding my nemesis — getting sucked into a book and not doing much other work — and finished sorting a large section of books at Laughing Horse on my shift today.
Then I ran across Against the Megamachine, a collection of essays by David Watson originally published in Fifth Estate magazine. In the few times I've read Fifth Estate, I've probably seen more articles I strongly agree with than in any other opinion journal I can think of. So my interest was piqued and I started opening the book and reading essays at random.
And was blown away, because I don't think I've ever run across an author I agree with so much. It was almost eerie. It took a good hour or so of the "pick an essay" process before I happened on one written in his earlier years that lacked sufficient nuance and sophistication. I borrowed it (one privilege of being a collective member), so we'll see if today's sampling is representative or not.
A good explosion of the "red states, blue states" myth, in graphical form, can be found here.
I was at what turned to be a Radical Faeries post-election victory party (even though I call myself a faerie radical, using the noun to describe the essential characteristic and the verb to elaborate on it) yesterday night. It was surprising how so many of what I sometimes derisively call the “liberal faeries” have been radicalized by it all. Not many were willing to concede a system that can go fascist any inherent legitimacy.
One friend even asked me when I was going to say anything radical, because everything I had said and typed in recent days about the fundamental illegitimacy of the system wasn't “radical” it was just “common sense.” My response was, of course, to point out the obvious about what that said about his outlook, which surprised and perplexed him. And maybe it's also an endorsement of my rhetorical skills.
On a personal note, the self-chosen “faerie radical” label is a new innovation. Now it seems as if there may no longer be much of a difference to warrant this different label for myself. That's the kind of mooted effort I can live with.
After some more reading, I have to conclude that my sampling wasn't completely representative, but it wasn't wildly inaccurate, either. Against the Megamachine is still one of the best political books I've read, and I still can't think of an author with whom I've agreed more.
I don't know for sure if votes were “hacked” in Ohio and Florida. I don't think anybody really knows — all we have is circumstantial evidence based on exit polls and a few obvious discrepancies here and there.
But that's not the issue. It's not our responsibility to prove the votes were miscounted — it's their responsibility to prove they were correctly counted. It's the way elections have always been handled, with observers and multiple levels of certification. And the way those black-box paperless machines work makes that kind of certification and observation impossible.
The headline for this article seems a classic case of propaganda to me. Consider how the PIPA surveys uncovered massive discrepancies between Bush voters' beliefs and reality.
And then they imply those of us immune from such delusions are the ones living in the bubble? A bubble of reality, maybe.
Let's discuss some of the more obvious garbage in this article:
First, there are winners and losers in the game. Wild nature is not going to be better off. People put at risk by the continuing failure to protect nuclear power stations, chemical plants, and ports are not better off. Those who pay taxes to support no-bid contracts to Halliburton are not better off (unless they own Halliburton shares). Lower income groups who work longer hours for less pay while the rich get richer are not better off. Fact: there's a class system in place, and its very existence contradicts the claim that “we're all in this together.”
Second, the “mainstream America” label. It's nothing but a transparent attempt to rhetorically bludgeon those who disagree into lockstep conformity. Sorry. In an open society, diverse views are allowed and expected. If you want to live somewhere where people all accept “mainstream values,” consider moving to North Korea.
Third, the heartland is not “rock-solid Bush country.” Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan didn't vote for your man. And when you look at county-by-county maps, Kerry won in many “red state” counties. That's assuming, in the first place, the implied assumption that if a majority of Midwesterners believe something it must be true is indeed a valid one.
Fourth, on whether the elections were fair and square, I don't care what the majority of the sheep think. In any election the burden of proof is on the system and those who claim to have won the election to furnish verifiable evidence that they did, in fact, get the most votes. The traditional presence of outside observers as paper ballots were counted reflects this. With paperless, touch-screen voting machines, such independent oversight is impossible.
Fifth, when evidence like the PIPA surveys delivers conclusive proof that Bush voters are living in fantasyland, there's no reason to respect their decision. Respect is not an entitlement; it is something that must be earned.
Sixth, what's this “we” business about Iraq. I don't have any troops at my disposal. I live in Portland, OR, not Iraq. The fact that a ruling class (at the top of a class system I've always disliked and had no choice of being born into) has used economic coercion and brainwashing to induce others to throw away their freedom and join a rigid, hierarchical institution that's ordered them into Iraq does not mean I'm responsible for it. The ruling class is. Let them sleep in bed they've made. I'm going to continue working on making alternatives to their system. I've seen the horrors it creates; why should I support something that generates repugnant outcomes?
An adage goes that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. To that end, one direct action I'm not enthusiastic about is any plans to shut down the inauguration in DC this January.
Look. Shutting down the WTO in Seattle was a good and novel idea. It worked. Their spies thought our side didn't mean it literally when we said “shut down the WTO.”
But after it happened, they now know we do mean it literally. So they take steps to prevent it. Measures that have been refined at each subsequent attempt and which have become more and more effective.
On the other hand, maybe if the threat is made the foreign media will see how militarized DC had to be in order for the whole shindig not to be disrupted, and broadcast tangible evidence of how little of a mandate Monkey Boy actually has back to their home audiences. I hope so, because I sure don't see any evidence that any attempt to shut the thing down will be effective.
The parallels are there. Both leaders managed to stampede a majority of voters to cast their ballots for them, both spewed shallow, vapid nationalist rhetoric, and both were responsible for illegal wars.
To that end, this article might prove interesting reading to those of us trying to figure out what to do here and now.
One of the reasons I decided not to stay in California is that I was paying a privilege for living in a climate I didn't enjoy that much. Simply put, it was too persistently sunny and there wasn't the change of seasons I was accustomed to.
It's the tail end of the fall color season, so yesterday I took my digital camera with me on my errands and snapped a few pictures of trees turning right here in town.
Obviously, if Fallujah hadn't been conquered, it would have been a win for the resistance in that they managed to successfully defend it.
But conquering it isn't a win, either. The resistance fighters will just escape for points unknown (as preliminary evidence indicates they have):
Something else, though, that the Marines had expected to see was nowhere to be found: the remains of the insurgents that the tanks had been sent in to destroy.Having escaped, they will, of course, continue to fight. And the inevitable atrocities and civilian casualties involved in fighting a war in an urban center will just furnish motivation for them to fight harder. As well as furnish motivation for more Iraqis to join or support the resistance.
“I was hoping that as we searched these houses, we would find dead bodies,” Omohundro said. “Unfortunately we haven't yet.”
Where the insurgents ended up is not known.
None of my antique radio sets are worth much. Actually, most antique radio sets aren't worth much. But just try telling that to the person who's heard rumors that some sell for thousands (some do), and is therefore absolutely sure that his common-as-dirt set in rough condition is worth hundreds. I dare you.
Anyhow, I had a chance to dust off my tube tester and verify that a hard-to-find tube is probably good before selling it on eBay (the tube, not the tester). Which got me wondering how much the tester might be worth. I bought it about a decade ago because it was the type of tester I wanted (transconductance, which is more sophisticated than the more common emission-type testers), and it was a Hickok, which was a brand I had heard other models of recommended. I remember paying somewhat more than I wanted to for it (around $70 I think).
So I type in “Hickok 752” to Google, and it comes up with a page listing one for sale… for $750! On another site, a battered one with a damaged case is listed for $450. Seems Hickok testers have become quite the rage with the tube-audio and old-radio sets, and commonly go for hundreds in working condition. Not that I blame folks for bidding the prices up — they are very nice test instruments, and I'd still be very pleased with mine even if the market price was still $70.
And no, it's not for sale.
I was just getting set to riff on how anarchism in the US tends to be a subculture (not a movement), then you guys have to up and publish something that undercuts this argument.
Normally that very fact that a tax is regressive is in itself a good argument against it. Sometimes, however, it's possible to get carried away with this.
Consider this tax. While in a theoretical sense it might be regressive, in actual practice I doubt it will be. To the extent that it is, it won't be very significant. It's such an easy tax to dodge — just reuse your old bags. Which is the whole point of the tax in the first place.
As for what to do with the money it generates, for openers why not distribute free or subsidized re-usable cloth bags to low-income residents? (The lack of control of the money it generates is a far bigger issue than any regressivity.)
It's things like this that make me so cynical about the alleged “War on Terror” and the ruling class that conducts it.
The most dangerous source of a “loose nuke” or the materials to make one, many security analysts say, are the former states of the Soviet Union, where much of the nuclear materials and weapons left over from the Cold War remain scattered and inadequately guarded.That's right. They knew about the danger in 2001 yet have chosen not to fight it, instead choosing to pour millions down the rat-hole of fighting an illegal war of aggression against Iraq.
To confront the danger, Lugar and Nunn started the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, by which the U.S. government assists former Soviet states in securing nuclear materials and weapons, a program Smith implemented when he served in the White House.
That program and similar efforts, however, receive only about $1 billion a year, just a third of the amount recommended by a bipartisan presidential commission in 2001 [emphasis added].
And then they expect me to take the claim seriously that this whole exercise is about fighting terror.
For bonus points, you can ponder on how little the ruling class is worrying about terrorist attacks on nuclear power stations.
You can add malnutrition to the list of things that have gotten worse in Iraq since the invasion. That list also contains: the general quality of life, death rates, terrorist activity, and the security of weapons materials.
My thoughts on hearing stories like this are: Why? Can you think of even one good thing that has come of this war?
One of the questions the neofascist dittohead crowd keeps asking is “Are you saying you'd rather have Saddam in power?” My answer to them is a hearty “Yes!”. Things were better there with Saddam in power.
That's not to say that Saddam wasn't a problem, only that his rule wasn't an easily fixable one.
… And Chuck actually has a point here. The fact that a system can so easily go fascist (and that's what's happening here, now) should be reason to question that system in toto.
The same machinery that can be used to brainwash the masses into acting against their own self-interests and serving the authoritarian hierarchies of capitalism can be used to stampede them towards fascism. The difference between the levels of delusion required by each isn't that great.
But oh, the dogmatism. It can't simply be that “direct action and mass organizing against the system” are necessary. No. It must also be that all other tactics are useless. The world must be explained in simplistic clichés or not at all.
On the plus side, Chuck also stumbles across another relevant characteristic of radicals when he comments: “Most of that liberal money never would have been spent on more radical politics, but you gotta suspect that some of our radical comrades donated a few dollars on elections and people running for office.”
Which is true. Many of us don't see it as an either-or situation.
Not that this doesn't stop many liberals from attacking us for not sticking to the straight-and-narrow and restricting ourselves to strictly legal and formalized means of political action. Oddly, the next accusation usually lobbed by a liberal at a radical is usually one of dogmatism, a classic case of projection if I ever saw one. As Chuck shows, no camp is immune from dogmatism, but it's usually the liberals that are far more dogmatic about legality than radicals are about revolution.
It's certainly no surprise that something like this happened. Nor is it a surprise that flights got messed up nationwide.
It may be a surprise that an early snowfall hit that particular region with that much snow. But trust me, if it wouldn't have been Chicago that got knocked out, it would have been Boston, Denver, Salt Lake, or some other snowbelt hub airport. Snow in late November is nothing new; in fact, the USA is a large enough country that there's bound to be a snowstorm somewhere during the Thanksgiving weekend.
Given that the air-travel system is severely overtaxed during the holidays, this snowstorm is certain to cause a breakdown in service. There's no reserve capacity, no room for error. The canceled flights and stranded planes in the snowy hub propagate through the system, wreaking nationwide disruption of flight schedules.
Add that to the near-certainty of a winter weather system somewhere, and the breakdown in service is almost certain. What would be news is if the Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays managed to pass without at least one breakdown like this.
I figured all this out about twenty years ago, and set about weaning my parents from expectations that I'd do any traveling to visit them during the holiday lemming-migration seasons. And every holiday season since, I hear the stories of the canceled flights and am glad that's not me.
(Well, there is one exception. I will sometimes travel to my parents place on Christmas Day and return home on New Years Day. Nobody wants to travel then, so it's great. Instead of everything being crowded and maxed-out, everything's quiet and calm. Instead of there being long lines everywhere, you just walk up to a counter and get instant service. If a flight gets canceled, there's plenty of reserve capacity so you'll easily get a spot on an alternate one. Maybe I should shut up lest my secret get out.)
…Is probably hinted at in this article.
Listen, I'm not denying that the opposition is less overtly authoritarian than the crooks currently in power there. I'm not arguing that people there wouldn't be better off if the opposition won power.
That's not really the point, though. Western powers have willingly supported even outright genocidal regimes if it's to their military or economic advantage to do so. It's about naked self-interest and the quest for power, not any sense of human rights or decency. The prospect of Ukraine opening its markets in the “wrong” direction is the real reason the US is egging on the opposition.
I mean, just look at the other ex-Soviet republic whose name starts with U &mdash Uzbekistan. Its government executes people by boiling them alive, yet you hear hardly a peep about it in the domestic media because they're a convenient ally in the so-called “War on Terrorism.”
And if Yushchenko was an Allende-style socialist advocating revolution through the machinery of democracy, you can bet the West would be squarely behind Yanukovich.
That's what some eyewitness accounts report. So far, this IPS article is the only report in the Western media I've seen alleging this. There have been reports since earlier this month alleging similar things from Islamic sources. Since I'm a cautious guy, I'm putting a question mark in the title for now.
Based on some of the other shit the Bushies have done (torture, ignoring the Geneva Convention, incommunicado detention without charges, etc.) I'm forced to conclude that using chemical weapons entirely in character.
Also telling is the report of the hospital being shut down (something that's been referenced in numerous other sources, so it seems safe to presume it's true) in such a brutal way (the exact methodology being absent from the other reports). Recall the (fallacious, it turned out) stories of Saddam's brutality in shutting down the Kuwaiti hospitals.
So if these reports hold up, it means the US military is being more brutal in its illegal occupation of Iraq than the Iraqi military was in its illegal occupation of Kuwait.
American liberals called the Brownshirts “conservative,” because the Brownshirts were obviously not liberal. They were ignorant, violent, delusional, and they worshipped a man of no known distinction. Brownshirts' delusions were protected by an emotional force field. Adulation of power and force prevented Brownshirts from recognizing implications for their country of their reckless doctrines.Full article here.
Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy. I went overnight from being an object of conservative adulation to one of derision when I wrote that the US invasion of Iraq was a “strategic blunder.”
The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That's not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”— Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind relaying the words of a Bush Administration staffer.
We have created our myth. The myth is a faith, it is passion. It is not necessary that it shall be a reality. It is a reality by the fact that it is a good, a hope, a faith, that it is courage. Our myth is the Nation, our myth is the greatness of the Nation! And to this myth, to this grandeur, that we wish to translate into a complete reality, we are subordinate all the rest.— Benito Mussolini, 1922
This sucks, but I'm not surprised. The Supremes ruled in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada that you can indeed be arrested and detained for failure to produce identity papers.
I've long occasionally gone on jaunts without my wallet, just because I don't want to carry the system's paperwork with me at all times. I'm now going to do so more frequently, just to spite the bastards.
Details available here.
From a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Ariel Dorfman:
What has Chile in turmoil is a report by a commission designated by President Ricardo Lagos to investigate how the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, in power from 1973 to 1990, subjected thousands to the most savage forms of torture. What is scandalizing our citizenry is not only the overwhelming narrative of extraordinary cruelty — the child tormented in front of his mother to make her speak, the prisoner forced to defecate into the mouth of another victim, the electrodes in the penis, the rats in the vagina, the needle in the eye, the fire on the skin. All of this was known — though perhaps not in such excruciating detail and magnitude.Compare the suffering of those undergoing those tortures to the suffering of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Most of them suffered far less. Probably some of them burned to death slowly and painfully. Most were certainly unconscious due to smoke inhalation before that happened, however (structure fires kill many more people by smoke inhalation than direct incineration). And the ones that died as a direct result of the aircraft impacts died instantaneously. The folks who jumped out of the WTC had a horrifying fall, but again, the end came instantaneously when they made impact. It's clear Pinochet's victims (and there were far more of them than 11 September 2001 victims) suffered more.
And it was the US government and the global capitalist ruling elites that installed Pinochet, not Islamic radicals. Just to clear up any misconceptions about who's the real savages in the world.
I may have to eat the following words I typed here: “…I'm not denying that the opposition is less overtly authoritarian than the crooks currently in power there.” It turns out that Yushchenko was also prime minister in the repressive Kuchma regime. Other dirt on Ukraine includes:
On the way back from today's Laughing Horse collective meeting, I noticed a bush with attractive purple berries I've been meaning to photograph before. Sine I had my digital camera with me, I shot them:
A few blocks later, I noticed a tree (either a hawthorn or a Sorbus) with clusters of bright red berries:
Nothing much grabbed my eye until I was almost home. The garage door of the Volvo dealership across the street opens up onto a public alley. The bright blue color of the door together with the graffiti (one tag per panel) had caught my eye before. So naturally I shot it:
That's when it got interesting. A wealthy-looking lady in a luxury SUV drove by and asked me in a semi-accusative tone what I was taking pictures of.
“It makes an interesting subject.”
“I own that building.”
A long rant about having to paint out graffiti follows. I manage to get the sentences “I can understand you feeling upset about that.” and “Just to reassure you, I'm not one of the people who wrote on that door.” in edgewise.
Beyond that, I was silent. I'm never good at questioning people's assumptions face-to-face, especially on the spot like that. I think there's about a 50% chance she's certain I did tag that door, and that she called the cops after I left, Not that I'm worried; I was home within a minute so if there's anyone riding around matching my description, it's not me.
I was also half-expecting her to request I erase the photos I took. I would have refused; that alley is officially part of Yamhill St. and as such is a designated public right-of-way. The law is pretty clear that you have no expectation of privacy for anything visible from a public street.
Before returning Against the Megamachine to the bookstore (where it promptly sold, so I cannot easily read it now), I did copy down one passage, which in under a paragraph sums up most of the noteworthy facts about the whole Cold War era:
… Appearances masked reality; the revolution against capitalism only gave it new expression. The communists were not communists and the free world never free. The political typology served the interests of hierarchs and hirelings in both camps. The Stalinist aristocrat's actual role as functionary in a new stratified, hybrid form of capital was concealed behind a revolutionary rubric that garnered enormous sacrifices of a quasi-religious character, both from within the regime and from supporters outside. For their part, the old ruling classes of the West had a godless external enemy to scapegoat whenever imperial pillage and military adventures were questioned. It was an elegant if gruesome system, and it survived for most of the century.
Monthly Index for 2004 |
Index of Years