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Monthly Archives: September 2006

fortune cookies  §

“Better to fail to reach the pinnacle than to succeed at reaching medoicrity.”

“Live long and eat many fortune cookies.”

“In the end it will be okay. If it is not okay, it is not yet the end.”

the job market  §

99.5% of all jobs in the New York area fall into one of three categories:

– Medical
– Financial
– Retail

With the manufacturing base of this country gone and reflection and creativity long since in full retreat from modernity, these three things—medical, financial, and retail—are the entirety of our culture and way of life.

Moving money around.
Taking money from people.
Trying to keep them from dying.

Ugh. It’s really quite dismal.

catholicism and western civilization  §

Sometimes I think that one of the reasons I feel so disconnected from western civilization—and one of the reasons that I have such different interpretations of it from everyone else—is the fact that I did not grow up with any real knowledge of traditional Christianity.

Neither of my parents were Catholic or typical Protestant and I was raised in an area largely devoid of them. I was a teenager before I heard words like “crucifix,” “catechism,” or “penance,” and I was pubescent before I finally asked a friend “What is original sin?”

And because the notion entirely absent during my early enculturation, I lauged when they answered and took them for an utter fool for believing that anyone would consider the principle seriously.

But Christianity pervades this culture, and the academics of this culture. More to the point, Christianity seems to percolate through this culture’s own perception of what it is and why it does what it does. In short, there is a large blind spot in this culture, just where an ahistoricism intersects with “things that could conceivably be caused by the repressed Catholic consciousness.”

It happens so often that I’m reading social theory, finding an argument engaging and persuasive, until the chapter(s) on how it’s all down to Catholicism, priests, the inquisition, and sex. Freud invariably comes into it as well, but I’m pretty sure he had a crucifix tattooed on his ass.

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that Christianity has no historical consequence vis-a-vis the functioning of society or individual psyches. And maybe a lot of people really hate cultural materialism. But I sometimes think that very often other structural or systemic arguments are missed (arguments that would to me be more persuasive and that to me also seem far more obvious) in the theorists inability to consider alternative explanations whenever there is a possibility of appealing to the identification with and deep subordination to the history and culture of Christianity. But of course, they would say that not having been affected by it, I can’t possibly understand just how central it is.

I don’t. I suppose that’s one of the problems of social science in general: the etic view is impoverished, the emic view is inescapably blind and immanent.

It also makes reading the inevitable 10-20 pages of the Catholicism of social psychology in every work a damn hard slog for anyone that (still) doesn’t really have a really robust knowledge of Catholicism and Catholic culture beyond mere historicism.

And it’s the primary sin committed by anyone who tries to deploy psychoanalysis in the explication of non-western culture and society. I’m just sayin.

ugh, what a day  §

I’ve been working all morning on letting people know about this.

What is it? The end of your safety in America. It’s a bill before the Senate that will:

– Let you or anyone else be imprisoned by the President
– Without evidence or a trial
– And be legally tortured and held indefinitely
– With no guarantee of a trial, ever
– And no court will have jurisdiction over your case even if people found out about it

But just explaining to people how it works has been an incredibly difficult thing to do. People just don’t want to believe that this is what happens in America. It must just be that Aron is going nuts.

But the House already passed it. The Senate is working on it today. To make matters more confusing, there was an amendment from the Democrats that would have toned the bill down, but the Senate killed the amendment and decided to run with the original, full-strength version of the new law after all—only the press is covering it as “Senate kills torture amendment,” so everyone I talk to thinks this is already done and the Senate killed the actual bill.

Basically, it’s like talking to myself in an echo chamber. The totalitarian state begins today, and I can’t even get people to listen to me say that, because the press is misleading them, they have too much faith in supermen and Gods and flags, and they’re too busy anyway. 🙁

Here is the biggest highlight from the bill:

SEC. 6. HABEAS CORPUS MATTERS.

(a) In General- Section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, is amended–

(1) by striking subsection (e) (as added by section 1005(e)(1) of Public Law 109-148 (119 Stat. 2742)) and by striking subsection (e) (as added by added by section 1405(e)(1) of Public Law 109-163 (119 Stat. 3477)); and

(2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

`(e)(1) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who–

`(A) is currently in United States custody; and

`(B) has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.

`(2) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 1005(e) of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (10 U.S.C. 801 note), no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement of an alien detained by the United States who–

`(A) is currently in United States custody; and

`(B) has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.’.

(b) Effective Date- The amendments made by subsection (a) shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply to all cases, without exception, pending on or after the date of the enactment of this Act which relate to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of detention of an alien detained by the United States since September 11, 2001.

What does this mean? Read it carefully. The bill claims to legalize torture only for “aliens,” which everyone takes to mean “foreigners and enemies.” But this part at the end of the bill, suspending or altering habeas corpus, says that if the government decides that you are an “alien” then no court has jurisdiction over you any longer. No matter what.

So you say something the government doesn’t like, or you join a party (say, the Democratic party) that the government doesn’t like. And they arrest you and begin to torture you even though you’re a citizen. You might think that all you have to do is prove that you’re a citizen.

But this law takes away the legal possibility to do that. There is nobody to hear your case. This law says that no court and no judge can even listen to your claim that you’re a citizen. Even if a judge were to somehow find out about your case (it would have to be 3rd-hand, because you can’t bring a claim, and you don’t get to present a defense) and that judge were to come to believe in his heart of hearts that you’re a citizen and deserve a trial, it doesn’t matter. No judge can offer you a trial. The law removes jurisdiction from the judiciary branch. Period. If the president orders you arrested and tortured as an “alien,” even if you have your passport and your social security card in your hand, that’s it. You’re no longer a citizen, because no judge can hear your defense or your claim that you’re a citizen and deserve the opportunity to present one.

You don’t get a defense. You don’t even get to ask to present a defense. No trial. No place to appeal. You are locked up, they throw away the key, and there is no legal way in the system to get you back out. It’s not a matter of “winning” something somewhere after making a good argument. Even if everyone in the government is on your side, there is still no legal way to get you out of this detention. All legal ways will have been written out of the law.

And this is going to be passed into law today. Everyone so takes for granted the right to a trial (not even a fair trial, just a trial) that they don’t understand how different it would be if you didn’t ever get to challenge your arrest and imprisonment. You get a trail never. Once you are arrested, there is no day in court. You are behind bars, being tortured, and that is that, there is no place, no chance, for you to ever present evidence that you’re even a citizen, much less that you’re innocent. Once the President, or the Secretary of State, or any higher-ups in the Republican party (read the first section of the bill) decides they want you out of the way, you’re gone forever, no more contact with the outside world.

And the thing is, this bill doesn’t just make that possible—it makes it **legal**.

But still people don’t understand. I can’t make anyone understand. Talk about despair and frustration. It’s days like these that I realize I don’t belong here anymore.

nevermind  §

The bigger question is: how am I going to make my education work?

a world of shitty journalism and propaganda  §

Newsweek
CNN

…and now the BBC?

All traces to the former BBC cover story on the NIE leak, and its indication that Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism, appear to have disappeared. Try searching for them, even—they’re just not there any more, so far as I can tell.

Gone, too, is the lengthy “Have Your Say” board I read yesterday asking Americans to give their views on the Iraq war vis-a-vis terrorism, in which American outrage was more than clear, it was hot and universal. Now gone, no trace of it on the “Have Your Say” page.

Did Washington make noises at the UK government or the BBC? Or is it just more weak-kneed shitty journalism, even from a tax-subsidized press like BBC?

God I hate Americans.

w o w  §

History was made tonight. (text version also)

“Good night and good luck.”

Indeed.

  §

The problem with our entire culture and political system is that people are not critical thinkers. They can’t afford to be, because their opinions and policy positions are completely tied up in their personal preferences and identities. It is an individualist culture, ruthlessly so, and that is the problem.

Everyone grabs ahold of one dogma or another and then can’t bear to let it go, or even discuss it. They are good, the others are evil, anyone who questions any aspect of the position is an interloper or attacker, and that is that.

Concrete positions on all sites and no room for dialectic or pragmatism. The left and the right are the same. They are exactly the same: American idiots without critical thinking skills wearing their politics like a pose. Draw attention to a problem or a new issue on either side, and you’ll find out just how personally they take it (and how quick they will be to accuse you of being either heretical or evil).

Sometimes I tend to wonder if it really is very simple: any political system is viable and comfortable so long as its citizens are bright and critical. Any political system is unjust and destined to crumble once its citizens lose the ability to doubt themselves or their own righteousness.

Most eerie blast from the past ever…  §

…at The Onion. Makes you think. Hard.

But there are things that can make a person think even harder. Spread the word.

Meanwhile, I’m getting tired of writing and calling senators and congresspeople. And I’m sure they’re tired of hearing from me. Maybe it would be easier if we just rose up as a population and guillotined them all. I don’t have the skills or time necessary to knit several hundred names into a scarf or anything, but I’m sure we could call that a formality and skip it, just this once.

1 2

Behind the scenes: Bush Sr. & co. step in.

make a note of it  §

MBAs will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

And rightly so.

Okay, what’s up?  §

Something weird is going on inside my head. I keep misspelling words in crazy, idiotic ways. I mean, writing sentences like “I kep mispeling words in craze, ideotck waz.” And then, I don’t notice it. How is that possible? When I come back later and read what I wrote, it jumps out at me like a sore thumb, shocks me completely, makes me wonder if I’m losing my marbles.

I’ve never been the person that even had to proofread, much less had to proofread through a bunch of third-grade-level spelling errors. I’ve always been a clear thinker and a fast, accurate typer, to the point that spelling errors were almost non-existent.

Am I just getting older? Have I developed Alzheimer’s disease? What is UP?

am i dreaming  §

Or is their president better than ours? Oh, and he was elected, too.

fiat lux  §

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/9/20/174152/072

I’m also particularly frustrated with the misguided mostly “social” (read: clueless, identity politics-driven) “liberals” who continue to label the current administration “communist” and “Trotskyite” (mainly because of one prominent column in which Kristol was called a Trotskyite).

Really the entire “social” wing of the progressive bunch in this country is teetering on the boundary of being a liability simply through their inability to grasp policy and economics as the principle sources of power, getting lost instead in mazes of identity (feminist vs. anti-feminist, gay vs. straight, pro-pot vs. anti-drug, etc.) as though the powerful cabal at the top ultimately gives half a damn whether you’re a gay feminist pothead or a straight male “Promise Keeper.” So long as they can steal your labor and your intellectual autonomy, they’re happy either way.

This government is fascist. It is fascist through and through. The second coming of the Weimar years are giving way, slowly and surely, to a Nazi regime, and all the signs are falling into place. We need to be fighting, voting, and making plans to get out, not running around squealing confused, idiotic nonsense about how we need to stop the Trotskyit communists and socialists in the Bush administration because they want to control our bodies. The Bush administration are not communist and socialist. We need all the socialist resolve we can muster right now.

Your body will be dead if you don’t do something about it, and that something needs to not include diluting progressive messages with leftover anti-leftist tendencies.

seeing a fascist future  §

Beginning with the election and for the next two years (and possibly from then on until the end of empire), we are in for some very scary times, I think. Very scary indeed. I hope I come out the other side. I hope we all do.

comix  §