she is very reliable

Seems to me that if the Cain thing isn’t over now, it can only be because it never actually was.

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since the prior post was beginning to give rather than merely express mind-ache…

…seen now at a couple of the usual places, our old friend Cyriak’s new vid, “Kitty City”:

Welcome to Kitty City

It expands on, not sure it really improves on his net classic…

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from “visual poetry”

Visual-Poetry (h/t This Isn’t Happiness)

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Defining Conservatism

The New Inquiry – Redefining the Right Wing

An exchange between Daniel Larison and Corey Robin about conservatism and reaction.

In The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism From Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin, political theorist Corey Robin frames right-wing ideologies as impulses “to defend power and privilege against movements demanding freedom and equality.” These fighting words were taken up by Daniel Larison, writer and editor at the American Conservative, and their email dialogue is reproduced here, with some edits and informative links added.

Posted in Miscellany Tagged with: ,

pesky birds interrupting otherwise pleasant days on the moors

Had no idea that the phenomenon shown in the videos below existed…

amazing starlings murmuration (full HD) -www.keepturningleft.co.uk

…much less that it went by the lovely name “murmuration.”

Not a very high quality video, obviously, the second one, but the expression on the girl’s face at the end is a wondrous natural phenomenon in its own right.

h/t to and more at The Daily Dish

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No One Likes Us We Don’t Care

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irrelevantly

It’s totally irrelevant and means nothing at all that the sexual harassment settlement separation agreement at or near the center of the Herman Cain scandal liberal leftwing media attack was dated “9/99,”or that the sum it provided to the alleged harassee was $45,000, not only a numerological “9,” but a reiteration of Mr. 9-9-9′s “lucky number” 45, to which he devotes a chapter – 9, of course – of his recently published autobiography, the same autobio that he’s been hawking while political observers have been suggesting he ought to have been creating a campaign organization in crucial primary states.

Using a pseudo-campaign as a book tour at the center of a “business plan” candidacy was not the peak of Cain’s hubris.  It’s just the setting.  The Icarus peak of his fame-flight was the notorious cigarette-smoking man video.  I assume you’ve seen it…

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Posted in Art, Miscellany, Music, Politics Tagged with: , , ,

Billie Jean Not My Lover Either

The Civil Wars – Billie Jean (Bing Lounge)

For Paul Krugman, it was “just because,” the reason to post this video, but it’s oddly timely, in that the Conrad Murray case with its very alternative look back on Michael Jackson is coming to an end.  I wonder if the fact exists in Krugman’s mind just below the level of awareness.

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The greatest threat to the Islamic Revolution since its inception?

How Iran Really Sees Turkey – By Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar | The Middle East Channel

Then came the Arab Spring, which according to Iran, is a misnomer: not Arab, but rather Islamic; not a spring, but like the Islamic Revolution in Iran, permanent. For Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the Arab Spring is in fact an “Islamic awakening,” the flowering of seeds that were sown three decades earlier by the Iranian Revolution of 1979. According to Khamanei, the uprisings signal the time for Iran to enter the scene as Muslims rise up to kick out one Western puppet after another.

But it was Turkey, not Iran, which seized the moment. Tehran watched in horror as Erdogan was received rapturously during his post-revolution trips to Arab countries. His advocacy of the “secular” model of government, which respected Islam set off alarm bells not just in Iran’s political capital, Tehran, but also in the religious city of Qom. Both the political and religious establishments in Iran protested. Even “moderate” ayatollahs attacked Turkey’s “liberal” and “Western” interpretations of Islam and warned that Iran had fallen behind Turkey in the region. Their voices were initially louder than the voices of Tehran’s government officials.  

What sent Iran over the edge was Turkey’s shift on Syria. Prime Minister Erdogan went from being a good friend of President Bashar al-Assad, to telling him to either reform or he would soon be ousted. Turkey has hosted conferences for the Syrian opposition and is now reportedly sheltering anti-regime fighters. In response, Tehran sent several messages to Ankara, making it clear that Syria is its “redline,” and warned Erdogan not to cross it by backing the anti-Assad opposition. Turkey did not heed Iran’s warning. Instead it announced that it would install NATO’s radar system, which is said to be a shield again Iran’s ballistic missiles, in Turkish territory. Iran’s tone then became more aggressive and even threatening. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other political and military officials warned that Iran would be forced to respond accordingly since the NATO radar system is to protect its enemies.

Conservative columnists then opened fire. They criticized Turkey for being a Sunni dictatorship that did not represent the other “50 percent of Turkey’s population,” meaning the Alevis and the Kurds. However, they failed to mention that Iran and Turkey are closely cooperating over the challenges posed by their Kurdish minorities. These commentators, who usually voice trends within Iran’s establishment, implicitly warned that Turkey should be aware that it could easily become unstable. Conservative media close to the office of the Supreme Leader argued that Shiite Alevis, who consists of “27 percent” of the population crave for Ankara to move closer to Tehran and Damascus, while Turkey’s Kurds are angry at the “brutality” of the Turkish army. Pointing to Turkey’s fault lines, they added that its people yearn for the implementation of Islamic law, but that the AKP has only provided them with a “veneer of Islamism.” Moreover, Turkey, unlike Iran and Egypt, lacks a long tradition of jurisprudential scholarship and therefore it does not have nearly the intellectual strength to lead the Islamic world. Last but not least, the Arabs cannot forget the “bitter” memories of the Ottoman period. Thus, Ankara’s euphoric moment cannot last since the new Egypt will once again reassert itself and balance Turkey.

The new Iranian narrative now fingers Turkey as part of a bigger U.S.-Israel-Saudi plot to derail the new wave of Islamic awakening. Since the United States is losing its puppets (Mubarak, Ben Ali, etc.) in the region, it has decided to use the Turkish model as a damage control measure. The AKP is also a new tool the United States would like to use for its regime change policy in Iran after the failure of the Green Movement in 2009, the argument continues. This is a sensitive point to make, however. The Iranian government is aware of the ideological affinity between Iran’s reformist opposition and the AKP. Although they were born in diametrically opposed political systems, both strive to strike a balance between Islam and democracy. Iranian leaders fear that the AKP may inflict a similar damage to their legitimacy as the Iranian reform movement has. They acknowledge that the reformists, although defeated for now, managed to crack the heart of the establishment and bring many die-hard supporters of the regime to their side or neutralize them. Now, the AKP could create a similar legitimacy crisis for the Islamic government on a regional level, weakening Iran’s soft power and undermining its popularity in the Muslim world.

There was a time when Iran would rely on its revolutionary ideology to project power. The Islamic government now finds itself relying on using its power to project ideology, to prove its revolution was right, and to demonstrate its message was just. In a recent speech, Ayatollah Khamenei claimed that the world is entering a “historic turn,” in which the Islamic Republic should be the model for all countries on earth. But that could become a cruel prophecy indeed if the model they were looking for turns out to be Turkish.

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David Brooks not our favorite pundit

David Brooks Wrong Inequality Column – The Case Against David Brooks, Man of the Privileged Few – Esquire

In fact, the income differentials understate the chasm between college and high school grads. In the 1970s, high school and college grads had very similar family structures. Today, college grads are much more likely to get married, they are much less likely to get divorced and they are much, much less likely to have a child out of wedlock.

Yes, and college grads are far more likely to have expensive lawnmowers and the ability to hit a two-iron. What in the hell is your point here? The life of an unemployed mechanic in Macon is not unequal to that of an unemployed recent graduate of the University of Georgia, where no unapproved fornicating occurs. That kid is going to come home with his degree and talk to his old high-school football tight end, the mechanic, and they’re both going to be angry because there is no work because, and I know I’m repeating myself here, nobody has any fking money anymore.

But, ah, you might say, what we have here is a great argument for vastly increasing and simplifying federal student loans, and for forgiving student debt, because what passes for data in this column clearly indicates that a college degree is critical to avoiding certain social pathologies that are at the root of our genuine inequality, and not the fact that nobody has any fking money anymore. No, you probably guessed by now, Your Honor, it’s values again. And, of course, not those values that we hoped our financial barons would have that would make them realize that stealing everything that isn’t nailed down is not good for America. Nope, it’s all those poor people humping again:

That’s because the protesters and media people who cover them tend to live in or near the big cities, where the top 1 percent is so evident. That’s because the liberal arts majors like to express their disdain for the shallow business and finance majors who make all the money. That’s because it is easier to talk about the inequality of stock options than it is to talk about inequalities of family structure, child rearing patterns and educational attainment. That’s because many people are wedded to the notion that our problems are caused by an oppressive privileged class that perpetually keeps its boot stomped on the neck of the common man.

But the fact is that Red Inequality is much more important. The zooming wealth of the top 1 percent is a problem, but it’s not nearly as big a problem as the tens of millions of Americans who have dropped out of high school or college. It’s not nearly as big a problem as the 40 percent of children who are born out of wedlock. It’s not nearly as big a problem as the nation’s stagnant human capital, its stagnant social mobility and the disorganized social fabric for the bottom 50 percent. 

Those two paragraphs alone, Your Honor, represent the rest of the American people’s prima facie against Our Mr. Books on the charges before the bar. There’s the sneering at “liberal arts majors” from a guy with a degree in History from the University of Chicago. There’s the usual wheedling nonsense about family structure and “stagnant human capital,” as Brooks tosses out tinpot sociology like a dime to a beggar on a steam grate. We do have an oppressive privileged class. (Brooks should look around his dinner table some time.) For three decades, as the Congressional Budget Office reported last week, most of the wealth of this country flowed upwards into it. Over the past decade, that privileged class, without a peep from people like David Brooks, turned the American economy into a dog track, and it didn’t matter a damn whether you went to college or didn’t go to college, or whether you were having babies “out of wedlock” (Jesus, what a priss) or not. That privileged class enriched itself and to hell with the rest of us. “Disorganized social fabric”? Holy hell, people are just trying to keep from getting tossed out into the street and all he’s got by way of an explanation is that too many people are getting knocked up and too few are going to college, even though we all woke up sometime in the autumn of 2008 and discovered that nobody had any fking money anymore.

Posted in Miscellany

Noted & Quoted

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To take power, May had to pretend that she, too, dreams these impossible dreams. And that led her to embrace a phony populism in which the narrow and ambiguous majority who voted for Brexit under false pretences are be reimagined as “the people.”

This is not conservatism—it is pure Rousseau. The popular will had been established on that sacred referendum day. And it must not be defied or questioned. Hence, Theresa May’s allies in The Daily Mail using the language of the French revolutionary terror, characterizing recalcitrant judges and parliamentarians as “enemies of the people” and “saboteurs.”

This is why May called an election. Her decision to do so—when she had a working majority in parliament—has been seen by some as pure vanity. But it was the inevitable result of the volkish rhetoric she had adopted. A working majority was not enough—the unified people must have a unified parliament and a single, uncontested leader: one people, one parliament, one Queen Theresa to stand on the cliffs of Dover and shake her spear of sovereignty at the damn continentals.

...Brexit is thus far from being a done deal: it can’t be done without a reliable partner for the EU to negotiate with. There isn’t one now and there may not be one for quite some time—at least until after another election, but quite probably not even then. The reliance on a spurious notion of the “popular will” has left Britain with no clear notion of who “the people” are and what they really want.

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The most extraordinary paragraph in this op-ed, however, is this one:

The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.

...First — and this is so obvious I can’t believe I have to type out these words — the United States can’t simultaneously proclaim “America first” and then claim any kind of moral strength. Saying loudly and repeatedly that American values are not going to be a cornerstone of American foreign policy strips you of any moral power whatsoever.

The second and bigger problem is that the “embrace” of a Hobbesian vision of the world by the most powerful country in the world pretty much guarantees Hobbesian reciprocity by everyone else. Most international relations scholars would agree that there are parts of the world that fit this brutal description. But even realists don’t think it’s a good thing. Cooperation between the United States and its key partners and allies is not based entirely on realpolitik principles. It has helped foster a zone of stability across Europe, North America and the Pacific Rim that has lasted quite some time. In many issue areas, such as trade or counterterrorism or climate change, countries gain far more from cooperation than competition.

Furthermore, such an embrace of the Hobbesian worldview is, in many ways, anti-American.

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The rise of the military, if coupled with the undermining of civilian aspects of national power, demonstrates a spiritual exhaustion and a descent into Caesarism. Named after Julius Caesar — who replaced the Roman Republic with a dictatorship — Caesarism is roughly characterized by a charismatic strongman, popular with the masses, whose rule culminates in an exaggerated role for the military. America is moving in this direction. It isn’t that some civilian agencies don’t deserve paring down or even elimination, nor is it that the military and other security forces don’t deserve a boost to their financial resources. Rather, it is in the very logic, ideology, and lack of proportionality of Trump’s budget that American decline, decadence, and Caesarism are so apparent.

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