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 scandalliberal 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…
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.
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.
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.
We might as well call it: Cinema as we knew it is dead.
An article at the moviemaking technology website Creative Cow reports that the three major manufacturers of motion picture film cameras — Aaton, ARRI and Panavision — have all ceased production of new cameras within the last year, and will only make digital movie cameras from now on. As the article’s author, Debra Kaufman, poignantly puts it, “Someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”
What this means is that, even though purists may continue to shoot movies on film, film itself will may become increasingly hard to come by, use, develop and preserve. It also means that the film camera — invented in 1888 by Louis Augustin Le Prince — will become to cinema what typewriters are to literature. Anybody who still uses a Smith-Corona or IBM Selectric typewriter knows what that means: if your beloved machine breaks, you can’t just take it to the local repair shop, you have to track down some old hermit in another town who advertises on Craigslist and stockpiles spare parts in his basement.
As Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala told Kaufman: “Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world? We wouldn’t survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera.” Bill Russell, ARRI’s vice president of cameras, added that: “The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared.”
Theaters, movies, moviegoing and other core components of what we once called “cinema” persist, and may endure. But they’re not quite what they were in the analog cinema era. They’re something new, or something else — the next generation of technologies and rituals that had changed shockingly little between 1895 and the early aughts. We knew this day would come. Calling oneself a “film director” or “film editor” or “film buff” or a “film critic” has over the last decade started to seem a faintly nostalgic affectation; decades hence it may start to seem fanciful. It’s a vestigial word that increasingly refers to something that does not actually exist — rather like referring to the mass media as “the press.”
Once upon a time when I was identifying especially strongly with my Jews, and especially un-strongly with my Christians, I thought about changing my name, or at least about adopting a nom de plume that more accurately reflected my maternal roots, and that suited someone who, in my view and in the views of most at the time, also happened to look Jewish (schnoz, curly hair).
“Gindas” was supposedly the original rendering of the Polish-Jewish family name that was Ellis-Islandized to the more slavic-looking “Gindoff.” I can’t really vouch for the accuracy of “Gindas” as a transliteration, but I’m too lazy to call up a cousin who knows the story better to confirm my interpretation of the family tale.
In addition to sounding a little ridiculous next to “Gindas” or “Gindoff,” “Colin” has problems of its own. Though the name translates as “young, virile,” it’s always sounded a bit effeminate to my ear – the liquid “l,” the hard “kah” sound softened into a “C,” which, even if it sounds a “k” before a following open vowel, appears commodious and receptive: more cunt than cock. Could simply reflect a lack of masculine self-esteem on my part, I guess, and the history of “Colin” – Colin the kisser, Colin Clout, General Colin Powell, American fighter ace Colin Kelly (my namesake, I’ve been told) – goes against my interpretation, but I’ll stand by it anyway: I don’t think anyone today thinks about Colin Clout, and Coh-lin Powell (he prefers that pron.) has always struck me as a pretty, prissy General as Generals go.
“Colin”‘s cognates include “Nikolai” or “Nicholas,” and, though I like those names, one could hardly get more gentile. Ditto for “Klaus,” of course. But “Koli” looked Hebraic enough to me, like it could be the nickname of an Israeli journalist or politician. Also my best friend in those days called me “Collie,” like the dog, and I like dogs, and dogs are more male than cats. Plus Koli got rid of the unfortunate pun on one common pronunciation of “Colin” – a pronunciation which the educated effete might want to associate with a favorite punctuation mark of the educated effete, but which everyone, even the effete when forced to tell the truth, associates first with the lower alimentary canal.
Having once been named, the personality Koli Gindas cannot help but exist a little, somewhere.
The odd, but predictable thing about Koli is that he sounds even more like a Scot than CuntcockfucK MacLeod does, and he’s just about always drunk, even when he hasn’t imbibed in days, trying but failing to forget his banishment from the proud, never vanquished Skye-born Highland clan of the sons of the brutal, the ugly, the loud.
His anima or feminine aspect, his other self inevitably, under the non-vocalic Hebraic spelling, is Kali, of course. If you suffer from lacking macho, what better feminine aspect than Kali?
Writers and commentators who, in private, will cheerfully concede that, of course, the crisis is fundamentally the fault of Republican intransigence will then fall back on “both sides are equally to blame” clichés in their public writing — not only to avoid charges of liberal bias but also to portray themselves as impartial and intellectually superior observers of all career politicians.
There is, unfortunately, one major problem with this “elites as pragmatic, fringe as extreme” view: it is deeply, profoundly and fundamentally wrong. The most dangerous group of political extremists today is not the grass roots supporters of the Tea Party. It is the major sector of the Republican financial and ideological elite who have embraced the philosophy of “politics as warfare.”
To see why this is so, it is necessary to very clearly distinguish between two entirely distinct meanings of the term “extremism.” On the one hand, it is possible for a person or political party to hold a wide variety of very “extreme” opinions on issues. These views may be crackpot (e.g. “abolish paper money) or repugnant (“deny non-insured children medical care”). But as long as the individual or political party that holds these views conducts itself within the norms and rules of a democratic society, this, in itself, does not lead such groups or individuals to be described as “political extremists” by the media or society in general.
Libertarians and the Libertarian Party offer the best illustration. Vast numbers of Americans consider many libertarian views “extreme.” But, because the libertarians conduct themselves within the norms and rules of a democratic society, they are virtually never described by the media as “political extremists.”
The alternative definition of the term “political extremists” refers to political parties or individuals who do not accept the norms, rules and constraints of democratic society. They embrace a view of “politics as warfare” and of political opponents as literal “enemies” who must be crushed. Extremist political parties based on the politics as warfare philosophy emerged on both the political left and right at various times in the 20th century in many different countries and circumstances.
In the politics as warfare perspective a political party’s objective is defined as the conquest and seizure of power and not sincere collaboration in democratic governance. The party is viewed as a combat organization whose goal is to defeat an enemy, not a governing organization whose job is to faithfully represent the people who voted for it. Political debate and legislative maneuvering are seen not as the means to achieve ultimate compromise, but as forms of combat whose objective is total victory.
This basic conception of the role of political parties leads to the justification and use of two profoundly anti-democratic strategies.
First, in the politics as warfare perspective it is a legitimate strategy for a political party to paralyze the workings of government in order to prevent a democratically elected government of an opposing party from implementing the platform on which it was elected. In the politics as warfare perspective the extremist political party accepts no responsibility for stability–engineering the failure of the existing government is absolutely paramount and any negative consequences that may occur in the process represent a kind of “collateral damage” that must be accepted as inevitable in warfare.
Historically, the Republican Party never embraced this strategy at any time during the Democratic administrations of Truman, Kennedy or Carter. The strategy first made its appearance when Newt Gingrich engineered the shutdown of the government in 1994. After Obama’s election in 2008 the use of this “paralyze the government” tactic accelerated dramatically with the conversion of the filibuster into a minority veto of virtually all majority-sponsored legislation and a Republican bar to the huge numbers of judicial and administrative appointments.
Previous generations of Republicans would have been scandalized by the notion of crippling the administration of justice by leaving courts grotesquely understaffed in order to prevent the appointment of individuals who did not strictly adhere to conservative orthodoxy.
The most dramatic escalation of this approach, however, occurred after the elections of 2010 and was reflected in the rejection of the very substantial reduction in federal spending that Obama offered the Republican house majority. Observers concurred that the deal was far more favorable to conservatives in terms of policy than the deal Ronald Reagan accepted in 1986 on tax reform or that Newt Gingrich accepted on welfare reform in 1995. But public statements by Republican leaders indicated that the deal was rejected in substantial part on the explicitly political grounds that any legislative agreement that produced a “victory” for Obama was unacceptable. In effect, the political objective of weakening the president had actually become a higher priority than the achievement of the most fundamental long-sought conservative policy goals.
It is almost impossible for anyone who does not remember previous eras of American politics to realize how extraordinary this transformation actually is. It would have been literally inconceivable to the Republican senators and congressmen of the 1950s and 1960s.
The second, even more directly and profoundly anti-democratic strategy that directly flows from the politics as warfare philosophy is the calculated attempt to disenfranchise likely pro-Democratic voters.
There were no systematic Republican initiatives to disenfranchise voters during the Nixon, Reagan or Gingrich eras. But after the 2008 elections Fox News began promulgating the notion that massive voter fraud had occurred. Fox News featured a video of two members of the New Black Panthers at a single polling site more than 100 times on its national programs, asserting that they had intimidated voters in order to insure Obama’s election. Even after it was conclusively demonstrated that sworn eyewitness testimony had been intentionally falsified in order to fabricate this charge, Fox continued to air the accusations and to assert that they were the tip of the iceberg of similar incidents. In parallel, accusations were also made that massive numbers of fraudulent votes had been cast in the election.
The result of these charges was a widespread grass-roots effort by local tea party groups to police polling places and record incidents of intimidation and fraudulent voting during the 2010 elections — an effort that produced not a single documented case anywhere in the country. Nonetheless, there is now a major, nationally coordinated and massively funded effort to prevent pro-Democratic constituencies from casting their ballots.
As for Trumpism vs. Bushism, one will be no less dependent on "populist nationalism" than the other, to whatever extent it is also successful: In a mass electoralist national system under popular sovereignty, the winner will always be the truest national populist, by definition, if not necessarily the purest national populist according to some external or merely intellectual standard.
The un-clarity or confusion, or confusion of confusions, regarding the meaning of these two terms is typical of this historical moment, which in one sense can be thought to have simply befallen us, having never been willed into existence by anyone, but in another sense can be viewed as the predictable and desired product of choices made over the course of at least two or now three presidential elections, in as self-conscious a manner as a mass democratic system is able to undertake.
Simply to assert, as Hart very much seems to, that the truth of a religious tradition is utterly severable from every particular element of that tradition, that it is essentially irrelevant to the inquiry into religion what the mass of believers believe or say they believe or are asked to believe, is, for the atheist, bad faith: a mere changing of the subject if not a deception.
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On every side with shadowing squadrons deep
By a strict standard, spokespersons for the Administration of George W. Bush, including President Bush himself, uttered lies while seeking popular support for the decision to invade Iraq. By the same strict standard, under which any exaggeration, self-interested omission of contrary evidence, or rhetorical coloration of the facts amounts to a lie, the leading critics of that decision are also clearly liars. The time for rigorous honesty in historical judgments does not yet seem to be upon us.
Internal Contradictions of Liberal Democracy in Relation to Islamism (Preface, 1 of 3)
I have examined this theme and connected matters in numerous posts over the last two or three years, not just in the more recent ones addressing Egypt, and I don't presently have any plans to stop. The time may be approaching for me to re-consider the key questions systematically in light of later reading and discussion. Whether that time if and when it arrives will also bring sufficient additional time with it for the work actually to be accomplished, I cannot now promise or predict. Until such time and possible time, these posts and all related posts will have to be taken as combined after- and forward to their own necessary revision.
Turning "Add to Any Share Buttons" into a Comment-Sharer
I've wanted to add such a feature to my site for a long time, the idea being to empower and encourage commenters, while closing the gap both between blog-commenting and social media and between commenting and posting.
"The reality is, on any public forum there is going to be a peanut gallery, and I’ve never seen a moderation policy that can quite eliminate them, but not eliminate interesting people who I want to hear from. So, culled lists, either individually (as here) or collectively (as was needed in a larger space such as Twitter), are a fine thing. They make a forum far more pleasant to use."[...]
The Tweet-storm, in the new era of President Tweet, remains a nostalgia-inducing afterimage of the blog and of the era of President Blog, but it may also portend a return or attempted return to coherent, accountable, and consequential civic discussion in a mass society, back from the Great Flood of clicks.[...]
There are progressive and liberal ideologies or ideological constructs, but the desirability of progress and its attainment via rational and open ("liberal") inquiry remain pre-conditions of any authentic (authentically "discursive") discussion.[...]
Commenter Ignore Button (CIB) lets a user to put one or more commenters "on ignore." To have such an option enabled is a frequent request at blogs and other sites where comment threads are plagued by trolls or other problematic commenters, but where site operators prefer to err on the side of open discussion - or don't want to get involved unless they really have to. Once users become generally aware of the option, people just seeking attention may either be more polite or move somewhere else, while regular commenters - and lurkers - may become more willing to engage.[...]
If you're not able to perfect your theme yourself, or not willing to hire a designer, then being a perfectionist is unrealistic. Yet just getting good enough on first glance results when adding CIB to customized comment templates, even before fine-tuning, may require some more complicated work. For those intimidated by the prospect, here is an example of curing the output on one typically atypical theme.[...]
We would be compelled to conclude that something must have been (and very likely remains) profoundly wrong with a political culture or political media - of which Matthew Yglesias and Vox are, of course, typical parts - that could be dominated by an issue to be judged intrinsically trivial, and dominated to the point of determining eventual collective decisions of undoubted significance.[...]
If members of the present younger generation in particular seem unable to articulate or comprehend the basis of a still operative policy consensus, they can hardly be faulted if their elders, even those running for the highest office in the land, can no longer do so either. We seem to be preparing and in effect demanding - perhaps cannot help but to require - a repetition, or at least a reinforcement, of the very old lesson.[...]