January 21, 2013

O Frabjous Day!

Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. -- The Murderer-in-Chief's Second Inaugural Address
Hey, Mr. Kill List: I am not your gay brother. Take your patronizing, mawkish, Hallmark card, gasbag philosophizing -- and you know what you can do with it.

Speaking of the Kill List, I see that you're still developing your "rules" about how to murder innocent people. You know, other organizations have rules, too. Having considered the matter in detail, I think the Mafia's looking pretty good by comparison. The Mafia's Rule 8 -- "When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth." -- well, that's obviously out as far as the criminal gang known as the U.S. government is concerned. And the U.S. can't possibly use Rule 9 -- "Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families." How would Wall Street and the finance industry, the health insurance industry, or Obama's other special friends ever survive with a rule like that?

And the Mafia sure murders a lot fewer people. So, yeah, I think we should go with the Mafia here.

As for queers being "treated like anyone else under the law": hell, yeah! Queers can be murdered by Obama whenever he feels like it -- JUST LIKE ANYONE ELSE! Careful what you wish for, morons.

So much for all those who worship at the altar of the Constitution and "the rule of law," as I recently discussed. Would you please grow up? Look, I could have been rude and said, would you please grow the fuck up? I'm trying to be polite since it's such a majestic and inspiring day, a day that makes us so goddamned proud to be Americans and all.

Well, that didn't work. WOULD YOU PLEASE GROW THE FUCK UP? The Constitution is not your friend. "The law" is not your friend.


Too much stupid. Cannot. Take. It.

January 19, 2013

Smugwyn Smallehigh: It's ART, assholes!

I have spent my entire life fighting the scourge of giant marshmallows. I especially hate it when mean people stuff giant marshmallows down the throats of their prisoners. Sometimes the prisoners explode and die! This is bad. I HATE it.

To its great credit, the American government has dedicated itself to eradicating the hideousness of giant marshmallows. It has been ruthless in its pursuit of those who produce, distribute and USE them. (Mainly to stuff them DOWN PEOPLE'S THROATS.) I wanted to make a modern, RIGOROUS film about the government's anti-marshmallow mission, and about how they finally destroyed the major trafficker, Mr. Marshmallow himself. (You don't know what "rigorous" means in that sentence, do you? That's because you're not an ARTIST. You're a horrible person. And stupid.) You can't believe how hard it was to get that movie made! You probably think it's easy to make a film about how noble and fabulous the American government is, and how brave and dedicated the Americans were who worked on this IMPORTANT and superduper SECRET mission. And you probably think the government WANTED to help us make a movie about how fabulous it is. You're a horrible, stupid person. Who cares what you think? But because of the incredible wonderfulness of the people who work for me, and with a little bit of luck, we finally made the film. That is how unbelievably fabulous WE are.

And then some fantastically stupid people complained about it.

"Smugwyn," some idiots screeched, "if you really hate giant marshmallows and stuffing them down people's throats, why do you have scenes showing wonderful Americans STUFFING GIANT MARSHMALLOWS DOWN PEOPLE'S THROATS?"

These people are idiots. I'd like to introduce them to some giant marshmallows. Haha. I'm kidding. I am complex, because I am an ARTIST. And better than you. Also: FIRST AMENDMENT. Because I'm an artist, and because FIRST AMENDMENT, I can make any movie I goddamned want, especially a movie about how great the American government is and how fantastic all these trained killers SUPERPATRIOTS are, and you can't say ANYTHING about why you think it's a bad movie. That's what the first amendment MEANS. This is totally OBVIOUS. My critics don't understand it because they're dumb.

ALSO. Those of us who are so deliciously special, those of us who are better than you because we are ARTISTS, know that to SHOW something isn't to say that it is GOOD. I HATE GIANT MARSHMALLOWS. How many fucking times do I have to say it? My critics aren't just horrible and stupid. They're DEAF. "Oh, but Smugwyn," these DEAF, STUPID, HORRIBLE people say, "you show giant marshmallow throat-stuffing in a totally misleading way. And you don't include any serious challenge to what comes across as a pro-giant-marshmallow-throat-stuffing point of view."

This is so superdumb and horrible that it makes me throw up. When I throw up, even THAT is fabulous. When you criticize artists IN ANY WAY AT ALL, you are CHILLING our right to free expression. You're making it impossible for artists -- and for ME -- to be superspecial people who are BETTER THAN YOU. You are hating on the first amendment and on America. You're a deaf, horrible, stupid FASCIST.

What I show in the film happened. Maybe it didn't happen exactly the way I show it. But maybe it did. Experts disagree! Ha! Home free! When you criticize an artist, someone like ME (God, I love me SO MUCH. Who can blame me? My fabulousness is totally unbelievable.), you're saying, "Don't show DARK DEEDS, Smugwyn! Don't challenge us with HARSH REALITIES!!"

I think we should never forget how the evil forces of giant marshmallowdom killed thousands of Americans, or how brave and noble and great American military and intelligence professionals are in their determined efforts to stop the giant-marshmallow-throat-stuffers. These are superspecial, fabulous people. Not quite as superspecial and fabulous as ARTISTS, but close. Certainly much better than DEAF, HORRIBLE, STUPID FASCISTS.

And we must never, ever forget that the giant marshmallowists are a GRAVE THREAT to America's safety and security.

These are the dark deeds and harsh realities I show in my great film. If you don't understand that, SHUT UP. When I say SHUT UP, it means I am for FREEDOM and the FIRST AMENDMENT and AMERICA. Because I am an ARTIST. When you say there's something wrong with my film, or it's misleading, or that there is even the teensiest way in which it is not a GREAT WORK OF ART, it means you hate freedom and the first amendment and America and kittens and puppies and sunshine, and probably even my hair. (Talk about fabulous!) I bet you have a lot of literature about giant marshmallows, doncha? Oh, yeah, I've got my eye on you. I may have to mention you to those wonderful, brave, dedicated military and intelligence people who are MY FRIENDS. Because they know how special I am. It's only artists and the great Hollywood community who can show the world how fantastic America is, and how fantastic its defenders are, these people who gave all of themselves in both victory and defeat, in life and in death.

Sniff. I made myself cry right there. That's how special and fabulous I am.

So shut up, assholes! But since I'm a great artist, and FIRST AMENDMENT, I'll even defend your right to be an asshole. But you don't want to carry it too far ... know what I mean? You do. Good. Never forget: there are still giant marshmallows out there! If you criticize my GREAT WORK OF ART, you are PRO-giant marshmallow! Those of us who are special and fabulous will remember that.

You better remember it, too. And how horrible and stupid you are.


Here's the original, which is shockingly similar to the above. I only engaged in this little exercise because I found its tone of self-satisfied smugness so sickening and overwhelming, especially when combined with its intellectual vacuity and massive dishonesty. If you want to read about a genuine antiwar film, one which remains powerful, wonderfully original, and terribly funny even 50 years on, I point you to this essay, and the discussion of Paddy Chayefsky's The Americanization of Emily.

January 15, 2013

Haha. Ha.

Just last week, I wrote (in a postscript to this entry):
Hagel's confirmation hearings might provide a few moments of interest if someone dares to ask him what he thinks of Obama's Murder Program. If the past election is any guide -- when Obama's adoration of drones was mentioned only once to my knowledge, and then only so that everyone could agree how fantastically wonderful they are -- it won't even come up. But if it does, does anyone seriously think that Hagel will even question it in any meaningful manner, let alone denounce it as the monstrous evil that it is? Please. I expect most of Hagel's hearings to be devoted to fervent declarations of how specially special Israel is, how we should try diplomacy first with Iran -- but only diplomacy and talks on our terms, of course, and so long as our goals are fully realized, and if diplomacy doesn't result in everything that we want, well ... Oh, yes: there will also be many statements about how specially special all us queers are. And then: confirmation! Now you can skip the news for the next month.
From today's news:
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his support Tuesday for the nomination of former senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, delivering a key vote for the Nebraska Republican’s confirmation after weeks of voicing doubt about his positions on security issues related to Israel and Iran. ...

“Senator Hagel could not have been more forthcoming and sincere,” Schumer said Tuesday in a statement. “Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him.” ...

In a detailed statement, Schumer said Hagel left no doubt that he would support an aggressive posture toward Tehran.

“Senator Hagel rejected a strategy of containment and expressed the need to keep all options on the table in confronting that country. But he didn’t stop there,” Schumer said [and thank Christ for that!]. “In our conversation, Senator Hagel made a crystal-clear promise that he would do ‘whatever it takes’ to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including the use of military force. He said his ‘top priority’ as secretary of defense would be the planning of military contingencies related to Iran.”

Schumer said Hagel also pledged to continue supporting the delivery of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Israel and in general supported Israel’s right to a strong “qualitative military edge,” as its leaders like to assert.
Gee, those views really stand out from the foreign policy consensus.

The story has this lovely touch, too:
In his talks with Boxer and Schumer, Hagel expressed deep regret at his “Jewish lobby” remark years ago when referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“He was very devastated by it, looking back,” Boxer said.
"Very devastated." Aw, so touching. I'm moved. I am. God, you're so cynical.

But I was wrong about one thing. We didn't even need to wait for the hearings! I'll work on my timing.

(Oh, yes, I will have quite a bit more on Hagel, following up on the earlier post. But I'll probably do the article(s) on Aaron Swartz's suicide first, and I'm finding those very difficult to write, in part for the reasons I've indicated. But the Swartz post(s) should be completed in the next several days.)

Some Decidedly Unfriendly, Even Rude Observations

You know -- actually, most people don't, which is a hugely significant part of the problem -- if one were genuinely concerned with stopping violence and the murder of innocent human beings, one might focus one's energies on perhaps the greatest source of these evils: a culture which celebrates violence and brutality in multiple forms, throughout every aspect of its many manifestations, and a government which systematically and ceaselessly unleashes destruction and death around the world.

On the latter point: one might also find the time to criticize a State, which is to say the government of the goddamned United States of America, which claims the "right" to murder anyone, anywhere, anytime -- and which has already actualized that claim on a terrifying number of occasions. To say the government of the United States is one of the greatest sources of violence and of violent death in the world today is not to exaggerate in even the slightest degree: it is the unvarnished, goldplated, fucking, goddamned truth.

Therefore and thusly, to believe that one of the greatest sources of violence in the world today should be trusted to solve the problem of gun violence in America is to believe in self-contradictory statements which immolate themselves on a gigantic pyre of the most ridiculous, asinine, ludicrous notions ever imagined in the malformed, grotesque, nonfunctioning brains of the dumbest animal that has ever existed. Anyone who believes that gun control -- gun control devised and implemented by a brutal, endlessly violent, systematically murderous State -- will even begin to solve the problem of violent death in and by America is a fucking idiot. Moreover, to believe that the man who has lovingly embraced the principle of mass murder, and who proudly and repeatedly declares to the world that he is a serial murderer dedicated to continuing his murders into the indefinite future, targeting an ever-increasing number of victims, is sincerely devoted to ending even a single aspect of the problem of violence is so colossally, stupendously stupid that it defies accurate description.

HOWEVER. Ah, perhaps you suspected there was a "however." That may be because you are not a fucking idiot. I am not about to weigh in on this issue with regard to the details, to try to balance the pros and cons of various gun control measures, and blahblah fucking blah. No, ma'am and no, sir, I absolutely will not. And that is because I completely distrust both sides of this debate. On the right, we have many people who wail and moan about the destruction of rights guaranteed by the blessed Constitution, and memorialized in the sacred Bill of Rights. People must try to move beyond the civics primer they read in first grade. Seriously, people should at least try to reach, say, a fourth-grade level of understanding on this subject. I defy you to identify a single amendment in the Bill of Rights that has not been subverted, perverted, trampled, and ground into dust since the Constitution's adoption. That process began within a few years of the Constitution's ratification -- that is, while all those saintly Founding Fucking Fathers were still around. Moreover, the Constitution was not designed to implement the initial, tragically brief goals of the Revolution and fashion them into the structure of a State. Oh, no: the Constitution was designed to stop any genuinely revolutionary impulses dead in their tracks. As I've noted before, the Constitution was the indispensable means for the establishment of "a government of, by and for the most wealthy and powerful Americans -- and it made certain (insofar as men can make such things certain) that their rule would never be seriously threatened. The most wealthy and powerful Americans were the ones who wrote it, after all."

As Terry Bouton writes (in Taming Democracy: "The People," the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution):
In Pennsylvania, the Revolution had been forged by elite and ordinary folk who insisted that a free government could only survive in a society with a relatively equal distribution of wealth. That belief had pushed the revolutionaries of the 1760s and 1770s to make wealth more equal -- or at least to repeal laws that made wealth more unequal. When many of the gentry decided during the war that concentrations of wealth were a blessing rather than a curse, they attempted to divorce wealth equality from the public's understanding of the Revolution. ... [T]he governments that emerged from the Revolution often fostered massive inequalities of wealth. At the same time, they redefined "democracy" as an ideal that could be reconciled with those disparities. By transforming democracy into a concept that encouraged uninhibited wealth accumulation rather than wealth equality, the founding elite (and subsequent generations of elites) tamed what they could not defeat. They turned democracy from a threat into an asset by making it into a concept that supported their own ideals and interests.
In brief: the Constitution was not the culmination of the Revolution. It was the end of the Revolution, once and for all. The history of the United States since the Constitution's adoption, including all the horrors that assail us at present, represents merely the playing out of the inevitable consequences of the Constitution's meaning and purpose. The ruling elite was hardly disposed to create a State that would threaten their power and wealth in any serious way; to the contrary, they devised a State, resting on the precious Constitution, specifically designed to protect their power and wealth, and increase them still more. You can read more on this theme in "Concerning the American Change in Management." In connection with these same issues, I must add that all those who collapsed on their fainting couches in response to this NYT essay reveal only what might be described, in an act of reckless charity, as an exceedingly naive faith in our "sacred" form of government. And here, "faith" is the only appropriate word: an informed knowledge and understanding of history proves the truth of my argument many times over (and not only in the United States). A fair amount of Seidman's NYT article is a recitation of facts; the balance of his commentary is notable only for how unremarkable it is, provided one is familiar with actual history (as opposed to what is in those first-grade civics primers most Americans cling to with such desperation), and provided one has some understanding of how societies in fact function. (On this and similar points, I am often tempted to say I only seem radical to many people because almost everybody else is so goddamned fucking conservative -- to say nothing of retrograde in a manner that even Cro-Magnon man would find shocking in its primitive quality.)

With regard to those on the right who loudly wail about their fun with guns being curtailed, I might be somewhat sympathetic to their plight but for one fatal failure on their part. And it is certainly true, as indicated above, that whatever gun control measures are enacted will have almost nothing to do with solving the problem of violence (however one conceives it), but everything to do with entrenching the State's power and control over the lives of all its subjects still further. But, with exceptions so rare that they are meaningless in terms of representing a countervailing force of any significance, the right has no objection to the State's assertion of power in the State's battle with its alleged enemies. The right does not object even to Obama's assertion of absolute power, that is, his claim of a right to murder anyone in the world, anytime he chooses. As long as such power is nominally tied to fighting terrorism or certain other specified evils, the right applauds it. The right almost never mentions these claims of power, even the claim of power over life and death itself. Given their contemptible, damnable silence on these issues, they should hardly expect anyone to come to their aid when they fear the State is coming for their guns. You're fine with absolute power, you ridiculous schmucks? Okay, you got it.

As for those on the "left," well, Jesus Christ. What can one say? "Oh," the "leftists" moan, "it is truly awful that Obama claims he can kill anyone he wants. What? Oh, yes, and he actually kills anyone he wants. Oh, my. Dearie me. And indefinite detention, endless surveillance of everyone all the time, rendition ... oh, dear, oh, dear, oh dear. Just dreadful. Still, no reason not to vote for and support the Democrats! Because, well, ah, um ... oh, yeah: CRAZY REPUBLICANS!! Aaaaaaiiiiiiiieeeeee!!!" Consult "Accomplices to Murder," and especially Part II, for examples of this eloquent argument. Needless to say, those on the left have no problem with a serial murderer who has adopted the principle of mass murder taking on more powers to "solve" the problem of gun violence -- because they have no problem with him being a serial murderer who has adopted the principle of mass murder, at least no problem that anyone needs to be upset or concerned about.

To sum up my attitude toward all those on right and left who have no measurable concern with the State's claim of absolute power or with many other associated claims of power (which is almost all people), and who now so frantically announce their passion for or resistance to gun control, and in my unstinting effort to be entirely truthful, I can say only: they can all go fuck themselves.

I offer an additional point of special importance. One of the central, intractable problems on both right and left is that, with regard to any allegedly serious problem that arises, the default reaction is always to appeal to the State for the "solution." This phenomenon may be more easily noticed on the left, which displays a fundamentalist fervor in declaring that virtually everything, from food and diet, to construction (of anything, highways, homes, schools, you name it), to making the "free" market actually "free" (by government edict, to be enforced by violence as necessary, by means of a vast array of punishments), and so on unto the ends of the universe (and the space program, too), can only be made to "work" through State control and intervention -- but as I've indicated, the State is the default solution on the right as well, whenever the supposed problem concerns a threat they deem suitably scary. And here, I will reprise an excerpt from Albert Jay Nock's Our Enemy, the State. It is not at all coincidental that I first offered this passage in an article about the killings at Virginia Tech, almost six years ago: "The United States as Cho Seung-Hui: How the State Sanctifies Murder."

Nock identifies the nature of the State, any State, as follows:
The positive testimony of history is that the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation. No primitive State known to history originated in any other manner. On the negative side, it has been proved beyond peradventure that no primitive State could possibly have had any other origins. Moreover, the sole invariable characteristic of the State is the economic exploitation of one class by another. In this sense, every State known to history is a class-State. Oppenheimer defines the State, in respect of its origin, as an institution "forced on a defeated group by a conquering group, with a view only to systematizing the domination of the conquered by the conquerors, and safeguarding itself against insurrection from within and attack from without. This domination had no other final purpose than the economic exploitation of the conquered group by the victorious group."
And Nock says the following about the "mass-man" who is the citizen of the State:
The mass-man, ignorant of [the State's] history, regards its character and intentions as social rather than anti-social; and in that faith he is willing to put at its disposal an indefinite credit of knavery, mendacity and chicane, upon which its administrators may draw at will. Instead of looking upon the State's progressive absorption of social power with the repugnance and resentment that he would naturally feel towards the activities of a professional-criminal organization, he tends rather to encourage and glorify it, in the belief that he is somehow identified with the State, and that therefore, in consenting to its indefinite aggrandizement, he consents to something in which he has a share -- he is, pro tanto, aggrandizing himself. Professor Ortega y Gasset analyzes this state of mind extremely well. The mass-man, he says, confronting the phenomenon of the State, "sees it, admires it, knows that there it is ... Furthermore, the mass-man sees in the State an anonymous power, and feeling himself, like it, anonymous, he believes that the State is something of his own. Suppose that in the public life of a country some difficulty, conflict, or problem, presents itself, the mass-man will tend to demand that the State intervene immediately and undertake a solution directly with its immense and unassailable resources ... When the mass suffers any ill-fortune, or simply feels some strong appetite, its great temptation is that permanent sure possibility of obtaining everything, without effort, struggle, doubt, or risk, merely by touching a button and setting the mighty machine in motion."


The unquestioning, determined, even truculent maintenance of the attitude which Professor Ortega y Gasset so admirably describes, is obviously the life and strength of the State, and obviously too, it is now so inveterate and so wide-spread -- one may freely call it universal -- that no direct effort could overcome its inveteracy or modify it, and least of all hope to enlighten it. This attitude can only be sapped and mined by recurrent calamity of a most appalling character. When once the predominance of this attitude in any given civilization has become inveterate, as so plainly it has become in the civilization of America, all that can be done is to leave it to work its own way out to its appointed end. The philosophic historian may content himself with pointing out and clearly elucidating its consequences, as Professor Ortega y Gasset has done, aware that after this there is no more that one can do. "The result of this tendency," he says, "will be fatal. Spontaneous social action will be broken up over and over again by State intervention, no new seed will be able to fructify. Society will have to live for the State, man for the governmental machine. And as after all it is only a machine, whose existence and maintenance depend on the vital supports around it, the State, after sucking out the very marrow of society, will be left bloodless, a skeleton, dead with that nasty death of machinery, more gruesome than the death of a living organism. Such was the lamentable fate of ancient civilization."
With regard to the State (and its Constitution), and the mass-man, the tragic process in which we are now enmeshed is that identified by Nock: "all that can be done is to leave it to work its own way out to its appointed end." In that article from 2007, I said: "[B]arring a fundamental change in direction, this is the course upon which we long ago embarked."

We can, we should work toward that "fundamental change in direction"; that is certainly the purpose of my own writing, as unimportant in the scheme of things as it is. But if we are to be truthful, history offers little hope that such a change can be effected on the required scale, and with sufficient speed.

Still, there is always a first time. So we shall have to hope for that.

January 13, 2013

The State, and This Damnable Culture, Claim Another Innocent Victim

You can read the basic facts about the awful, horrifying suicide of Aaron Swartz here and here.

I do not consider it an open question to even the smallest degree that this is true. More than that, and as my title says, it is unquestionably the case that the State, in conjunction with and as an expression of our detestable, loathsome, unspeakably cruel culture, killed this man of extraordinary accomplishment and promise. It is no accident that the State and our culture set out to destroy him. They finally succeeded.

At this particular moment, it is entirely possible that I loathe Cory Doctorow more than any other human being alive. Lawrence Lessig is a very close second. Everything that is so damnably hideous about our culture is contained in those articles, supposedly tributes to their "friend." The horrors of our world are also revealed by the fact that so many people (so many people) find those disgusting pieces "incredibly moving." For the moment, all I will say about that is: God damn every single one of you.

I have a great deal to say about this terrible story and the reaction to it, and I've begun writing some of it. But some of the issues involved hit very close to home for me. Depression accompanied me through most of my life until the last several years, including exceedingly dark, unrelenting episodes that lasted months and even years. At certain times, I thought about suicide over very long periods of time. For almost everyone, suicide is one of the most tragically misunderstood issues imaginable. Virtually everything now being written about depression and suicide is unadulterated horseshit. Because these issues are so deeply personal, it will take me at least several days to present my thoughts in a form I want to offer publicly.

For the moment, I will add this observation for your consideration: under certain circumstances, suicide is an entirely rational response. This horrifying story may very well be one of those instances. Viewed from one perspective, the choice to end one's life can be an act of immense courage, and an act of affirmation of life. Life is not always an unquestionable value. There are times when the continuation of life, but only on terms which an individual finds absolutely unacceptable, is no longer a value at all.

To all those who now seek to blame Swartz himself in even the smallest degree, to all those who suggest he was troubled, or weak, or defective in a way that may have contributed to his suicide, I simply say: fuck you. To all such people, to put the point briefly and bluntly. I add: you want to know what killed Aaron Swartz? People like you. People who think and behave like you. Our culture is run by and overwhelmingly dominated by such people. To imply, however indirectly and "delicately," that Swartz's suicide is his own fault to any extent whatsoever is disgusting in a manner beyond endurance.

I cannot begin to describe the rage I'm feeling right now. But I will explain the sources of my rage in two or three days. In the meantime, I devoutly wish that certain motherfuckers would shut the fuck up.

January 09, 2013

(Possibly) Minor (Possible) Emergency

As I along with the other tenants in my building have been aware was possible, this property and the one next door have now been sold. I just received a letter (dated January 7) informing us of the change in ownership and management.

At the end of the letter, we're told that all rent payments -- beginning with the January rent (!!!) -- should be made out and mailed to the new management company.

Which is swell and all, but since the last thing I want is any trouble with any management company and having to move (which would be an impossible nightmare for me at this point, for many reasons), I always make sure to send the rent payment for the next month at the end of the previous month. So I sent the January rent payment to the old management company at the end of December. I always send a money order. I still have a checking account, but I never use it for transactions in amounts greater than a hundred dollars or so. The reason is simply that, if there were substantial funds in my checking account ... well, let's just say that other parties would almost certainly claim a "right" to them. (See the previous post, particularly the part about Thoreau and related matters, if you want to connect the dots. This is one of the costs I incur because of my "disobedience," but it is a comparatively very minor one, one of inconvenience more than anything else. Some of the other costs are far more substantial.)

I've called both the old and new management companies, telling them about the payment I've already made and asking them to figure out what's happened to it. In the ordinary course of things, my payment would simply be transferred to the new management company in one way or another. But very little in my life has been "ordinary" in the last few years, and given the general level of competence one is likely to encounter these days... (And I am not favorably impressed by a letter dated January 7 instructing me how to pay January rent, when rent is almost always due on the first of the month.)

So my concern at the moment is that I may have to get a new money order, while the various parties involved figure out how to handle the old one. Again, I just don't want any problems with the new management company, including trouble resulting from what they might consider, wrongly in this case, a "late" payment. I'll do everything possible to make certain that I get credit for the payment already made, or a refund for the money order if necessary, but who knows how quickly that will happen, or not. Since I only have a few hundred dollars after paying the rent (yes, I paid it, dammit!) and other first of the month bills, I can't get a new money order. So I guess I better put out a low level alert now, to try to gather together around $1,000, just in case. (I don't need all of the $1,000 for rent, but food, etc.) If no problem with the rent payment materializes (I can hope, and it shouldn't unless the world has gone mad, but then...), I'll need some additional funds all too soon in any case (and both cats need to visit the vet, too, so there's that).

I'm very sorry to have to ask for donations so early in the New Year, but circumstances conspire against me. (For the details of my general situation, please see this from a few months ago.)

My very great thanks for your attention and consideration. Now, I must return to my work eviscerating the foreign policy views of Mr. Hagel...

January 08, 2013

Taking It Personally

It is very odd indeed that one truth about Barack Obama's presidency thus far is widely accepted by both the right and left (using those terms broadly, and as they are commonly used to describe American political affiliations). The truth I refer to is the fact that what had once been controversial policies when first implemented by George W. Bush -- indefinite detention without charges and warrantless, virtually unlimited surveillance, to name just two obvious examples -- have been continued by Obama, despite the fact that Obama as candidate sometimes protested against them. Most observers also agree that Obama has not only continued these policies, but normalized and institutionalized them (and sometimes expanded their reach), thus seeking to make them a permanent part of the State apparatus going into the future.

Since those on the right (with rare exceptions) supported these policies when Bush pursued them, they are relieved and happy that Obama has chosen this course. Such people can therefore be granted recognition for demonstrating consistency with regard to their professed beliefs. The same cannot be said for those on the left (again, with rare exceptions). They vehemently denounced the policies when a Republican adopted them; when Obama continued, institutionalized and occasionally expanded them, they rationalized his actions (always seeking to divest Obama of moral agency and responsibility in one way or another), or chose to remain silent. Those on the left continue this approach today. We can therefore say, speaking generally, that those on the right believe something -- that is, they believe that power should be used to pursue certain ends, and not others -- while those on the left believe in nothing but power, power for its own sake, power as an end in itself.

I've made this argument for many years. And even though one might be tempted to say that those on the right are marginally better, insofar as they believe in something beyond power for its own sake and thereby remain somewhat recognizably human, while those on the left who choose to engage in perpetual Obama apologetics have rendered themselves into formless, unthinking blobs of meaningless matter, I think that conclusion is an error. We cannot forget what those on the right believe -- and since what they believe requires the brutalization, suffering and death of innocent human beings, they are finally as thoroughly detestable as those on the left. Nonetheless, I think this observation from that long-ago post is also true: "But in a psychological sense, I probably would have to say the Democrats (and certain of their apologists) are worse: to say you recognize evil to any extent at all, yet to fail to oppose it or, which is still more reprehensible, to act for its furtherance, consigns one to the lowest rung of Hell."

Distinctions of this kind may be a subject of great interest (I myself find it fascinating), but we are speaking here of the potentials of human life, of the possibilities for joy and happiness, and of their destruction. At this juncture, both right and left are committed to the destruction of life, and of joy and happiness, and there is finally nothing to choose between them.

What is so extraordinarily peculiar about the widespread agreement on Obama's continuation and institutionalization of Bush's policies is that the attitude of agreement on this point is not agreement alone: it is acceptance. It is as if most commentators (and most Americans) have said: "All our leaders of every political persuasion support these policies. I guess that will be the way of the world for us now. And they are our leaders, after all. I suppose they know best." Even if a particular observer is unwilling to grant that "they know best," his attitude is likely to be: "Yes, it's terrible. It's ghastly. But what can we do?" Such an observer might content himself with tinkering around the edges while registering his protest, and he may vaguely hope that an alternative to the current system will somehow appear somewhere at an indeterminate future date, but his life will essentially go on as before. He will go to work, he will spend time with family and friends, he will faithfully pay his taxes and file his tax returns.

Yet some people choose a different path. Certain individuals -- Thoreau was one -- do not pay their taxes when they conclude that doing so would support an evil that they find absolutely unacceptable. Some people refuse to pay taxes, and their refusal sometimes stretches over decades. I regularly ask, "Why do you support?" I have asked that question for over five years. My query -- which, as I hope is obvious, encompasses much more than paying taxes -- is not an empty rhetorical exercise, at least it is not for me.

But I recognize that the costs of disobedience of this kind can be very high, sometimes prohibitively so. (I am very painfully and personally aware of this fact, and need no reminders of it.) Moreover, I am in full agreement with Thoreau's observation in Civil Disobedience that: "I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.” The ultimate purpose of any individual's life is to live it, not to reform the world. And honorable people may loathe their government and nonetheless choose to obey what they consider deeply unjust laws, because they know too well what the consequences of refusal might be -- and this is especially true when they fear the consequences not for themselves, but for their families and particularly for their children (for whom, of course, the adult is responsible until the children themselves are adults). Yet I will also offer this observation, one based on reading a great deal of political commentary over the last decade: to the extent one remains a participant in the affairs of the State, to the extent one complies with the State's requirements in their multitude of forms, to that extent one's criticisms of the State will necessarily be diluted and weakened. I would say that one's criticisms and one's dissent will necessarily be compromised, but that conveys a negative moral judgment which may not always be merited (although it frequently is). But actively supporting the State -- obeying the laws, paying taxes, etc. -- must certainly dilute and weaken one's criticisms. How could it possibly be otherwise?

If one views the State as vile, even evil, at its foundation and in many of its effects, one will recoil from any and all involvement in its activities, which is the conclusion Thoreau reached through the logic of his argument. A simple, stark example suffices to make the point: one does not effectively protest a gratuitous murder by proclaiming that the murder is unjustified and evil, while simultaneously handing the murderer the knife with which he will stab his victim to death. Even if you repeatedly say the State commits evil, your participation in its acts, however attenuated, means that you think the evil is one that can still be countenanced, that it can somehow be accommodated. If you did not think that, you would say, "No," and you would mean it.

A further aspect of the attitude of acceptance of the Bush-Obama policies should be noted. It is no accident that such acceptance is guided and shaped by those who themselves are for the most part (and often entirely) immune from the worst consequences. This is obviously true of political leaders (as well as members of the ruling class in general), who are secure in the knowledge that the laws they devise for others will rarely, if ever, be applied to them. And the same is true of "opinion leaders," in which category I include newspaper writers, television commentators and hosts, and the more prominent bloggers. There is an inverse correlation between such individuals' success within the existing system and the threat they represent to that system: the more successful they are, the less of a threat they constitute. Those who represent the least threat will be very successful; those who are a serious threat will be known to very few -- or, if they do become widely known, it will be as a person who is persecuted and/or imprisoned, as in the case of Bradley Manning. These observations also apply to those who style themselves "dissenters" (see here for a recent example, and here for an earlier one).

You can see a related category of these same dynamics in momentary controversies like the one that erupted over the genuinely offensive comments offered by an idiot who goes by the name Erik Loomis; some sensible commentary about that will be found here and here. Loomis is a made man in the current system; he will do very well (and far better than most) regardless of whether he keeps one particular job. This is not to say that he should be fired for making idiotic comments, the first amendment, blahblahblah (although why any university would want to hire such an idiot remains an open question, along with why anyone would wish to attend a university that does) -- but honestly, all the talk about eternal Constitutional verities with regard to Loomis is asinine and even obscene, when you consider the plight of Manning, as just one example. (And I confess that I have more than a sneaking suspicion that Loomis is most annoyed by the fact that he hasn't been fired. That book would have been a bestseller, and maybe even a movie. It still might be, just on the basis of his "persecution." Oy.) But the Loomis controversy, and all the similar controversies that arise with sickening regularity, demonstrate the perverse priorities of this moment: people scream and yell about supposedly horrifying threats to liberty and the sacred "American way of life" with regard to people who are in no danger at all -- when actual horrors go entirely unremarked and, still worse, when actual horrors are accepted.

This brings us to the greatest horror of all. It is not enough that Obama has continued, institutionalized and even broadened what so many people proclaimed to be unacceptable evils when adopted by Bush. America has proven steadfast in its determination to be "exceptional," so its lauded president has publicly proclaimed his assertion of absolute power -- and almost no one notices, and almost no one cares:
As I have written before: "the claim of a 'right' to dispense death arbitrarily -- the claim that the State may murder anyone it chooses, whenever it desires -- constitutes a separate category altogether, a category of which this particular claim is the sole unit. When death is unleashed, all possibility of action is ended forever." For this reason -- and it is the only reason required -- it is not "perfectly rational and reasonable" to decide that "the evils of their candidate [Obama] are outweighed by the evils of the GOP candidate."

There is no evil beyond the claimed "right" to murder by arbitrary edict, to murder anyone, anywhere, anytime. If you support this particular evil -- and if you vote for Obama, you support it -- then you will support anything.
As I explained in "Accomplices to Murder," all those who voted for Romney support evil in the same manner. In the last election, 120 million Americans voted for evil. This particular evil -- which is of necessity the greatest evil possible, since death forever precludes all other possibilities of every kind -- is fine with them. They accept it, and they support it. Most other Americans appear to have chosen to remain unaware of the State's assertion of absolute power and what it means. It is not that the information is unavailable to them, for the State proclaims its adoption of evil regularly in the nation's most prominent newspapers. Evil has arisen in the manner of a gargantuan statue in the largest public gathering place in America -- and almost all Americans walk by it every day, carefully averting their gaze, refusing to see the massive edifice that has been erected directly in front of their unseeing eyes.

Obama regularly and systematically orders the murders of innocent human beings -- human beings he knows to be innocent. The president of the United States is a serial murderer. The president of the United States boastfully proclaims his status as a serial murderer to all the world. This monumental fact -- and it is a fact, one which Obama and his fellow criminals repeat to us over and over, to make certain we hear it, even if we refuse to understand it -- matters only to a vanishingly small number of Americans.

This is the point where you and every person desperately needs to take it personally. This is not a charade or a carefree patriotic parade with colorful floats and banners, although that is exactly how almost every public voice speaks about it, if they bother to speak about it at all This is, all too literally, a matter of life and death. I made a similar point many years ago, when I was attempting yet again to reach those who refused to acknowledge the significance of Bush's policies:
To put the point the other way, which will hopefully penetrate the wall of resistance erected by so many people: the only reason you aren't in a concentration camp right now is because Bush hasn't decided to send you to one -- yet. But he claims he has the power to do so -- and there are almost no voices of any prominence to dispute the contention. What is even worse than the loss of liberty is the fact that most Americans aren't even aware that the loss has occurred.
We can now edit that passage, but only slightly, to bring us into accord with the precepts of the Glorious Age of Obama:
The only reason you aren't dead right now is because Obama hasn't decided to kill you -- yet. But he claims he has the power to do so -- and there are almost no voices of any prominence to dispute the contention.
You need to think of Obama ordering a drone strike on your wife or husband, or your lover, or your children -- or you. Imagine it in every detail. Then tell me how "accepting" you are of this monster. Then tell me how you justify having voted for him, if you did. As I indicated, the same is true for all those who voted for Romney, and for all those millions who think it doesn't matter.

I have highlighted these issues again for two reasons. First and most importantly, these are the matters of greatest significance for our present, as well as for our future, which is almost certain to be bleak and horrifying beyond anything we can now imagine. These are the matters that must always be kept in mind when analyzing and evaluating any and every political issue of national significance.

Second, as I indicated yesterday, I want to discuss the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Keeping in mind the full meaning of Obama's assertion of absolute power, that is, Obama's claim that he has the "right" to murder anyone he chooses, for any reason he wishes or invents, or merely because he feels like it, we must first restate the obvious: Hagel has been selected for this post by Obama. He has been nominated as Defense Secretary by a serial murderer, who regularly and systematically orders the murder of innocent human beings. Would you want to work for a serial murderer? If you hesitate for even a moment, please go away and don't ever come back. I have no idea why you're here in the first place. Any person of decency and integrity, any individual who possesses a minimal amount of human feeling and compassion would immediately refuse. It should be inconceivable for any remotely healthy human being to consider working for a serial murderer even for an instant.

And that leads to an equally obvious, closely related point: Hagel affirmatively wants the job. Hagel wants to work for a serial murderer -- and not only that, he wants to work for him in one of the most critical positions in the administration. As Secretary of Defense, he will take orders from a serial murderer.

He wants to do it. If you trust such a man, if you believe he may do "good" in some vague, unspecified way, if you think he may mitigate the evil which Obama has so enthusiastically embraced, you're a fool. I will not apologize for using the word "fool," for no other word will do. The situation would be vastly different if Hagel had offered even some halfhearted criticism of Obama's Murder Program, and of the loathsome "disposition matrix." I'm not aware of any such statements. To the contrary, Hagel believes and accepts every central principle guiding Obama's national defense policy, as we shall shortly see.*

But even before we examine Hagel's own stated beliefs, we can conclude that either of these already known facts is dispositive: that it is Obama who selected him for the job, and that Hagel wants it. In a sane, healthy country, Obama would be in jail. If Hagel is confirmed, he will deserve to join him there after a single day as Secretary of Defense.

As matters stand at present, we are unable to change our course because we refuse to recognize the truth of our condition. Once before, I quoted Sven Lindqvist:
You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.
Next time, we will draw some further conclusions, when we consider Hagel's beliefs concerning Iran. There is far, far less there than some of Hagel's defenders want to believe. In fact, Hagel fully adopts every idea that may well lead us directly to catastrophe.

Until then.

* Hagel's confirmation hearings might provide a few moments of interest if someone dares to ask him what he thinks of Obama's Murder Program. If the past election is any guide -- when Obama's adoration of drones was mentioned only once to my knowledge, and then only so that everyone could agree how fantastically wonderful they are -- it won't even come up. But if it does, does anyone seriously think that Hagel will even question it in any meaningful manner, let alone denounce it as the monstrous evil that it is? Please. I expect most of Hagel's hearings to be devoted to fervent declarations of how specially special Israel is, how we should try diplomacy first with Iran -- but only diplomacy and talks on our terms, of course, and so long as our goals are fully realized, and if diplomacy doesn't result in everything that we want, well ... Oh, yes: there will also be many statements about how specially special all us queers are. And then: confirmation! Now you can skip the news for the next month.

January 07, 2013

This Is the Deadly Serious Part

I will offer a detailed argument concerning Obama's nominations of Brennan and Hagel (for CIA Director and Defense Secretary, respectively) in the next post. I'm still collecting my thoughts and organizing the material -- and steeling myself to deal with an absolutely colossal amount of dumbass shittery from nominally "dissenting" writers. One way of expressing the bottom line is this: the ruling class is far more expert and much cleverer at these games than most alleged "dissenters," who consistently do nothing to ameliorate the evils that beset us, but only make them worse by playing directly into the ruling class's hands. As I sometimes note, they do not constitute the ruling class because they're stupid. Remember: they're the ruling class. You're not. See how that works? Of course, writers (to say nothing of MSNBC hosts) who unwittingly (or not) provide immense aid to the ruling class thereby become very useful adjuncts to the elite (and thus enjoy all the lovely perks that accompany that status). As I said about Chris Hayes (and the observation applies to many more people):
"Dissent" like this is indispensable to the brutal, crushing system that is killing people around the world, and killing more and more of us here at home. The system allows for "dissent" of this kind and counts on it. It helps to foster the illusion of choice, and the illusion that the system can be "reformed from within." It makes people believe in the legitimacy of Hayes' sacred "democracy." And it represents no threat whatsoever to those in power.

The ruling class loves dissent like this. It's not "dangerous" in the smallest detail. If "dissenters" like Hayes didn't exist, the ruling class would have to invent them.
About Brennan, I will here note the following: told you so. In that entry, which was the first one I wrote about Petraeus's resignation, I explained why "it's never the sex." See a still earlier post for the fuller explanation as to why such concocted scenarios are only the cover stories for what is actually happening. I find it utterly amazing, as well as endlessly depressing, that writers who bring enormous skepticism to most other pronouncements from government officials voluntarily retire every analytic ability they possess when it comes to the subject of sex. As I pointed out, this is precisely why sex scandals are so popular throughout history, and why the ruling class regularly employs them. To believe that Petraeus resigned because of an affair puts one in the ranks of those who enthusiastically believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Toward the conclusion of that post concerning Petraeus, I offered two possible explanations concerning where the truth might lie. About the second explanation, I wrote:
But I consider the following of possibly much greater significance. From the end of the New York Times story:
Among those who might replace Mr. Petraeus permanently is John O. Brennan, the president’s adviser for domestic security and counterterrorism. Mr. Brennan was considered for C.I.A. director before Mr. Obama’s term began but withdrew among criticism from some of the president’s liberal supporters. Another possibility is Michael G. Vickers, the top Pentagon intelligence policy official and a former C.I.A. officer who is highly regarded by the White House.
John Brennan. My, my. What a conveniently small world it is.

If Brennan were to succeed Petraeus at the C.I.A., the White House would not only install Obama's first choice in that office, no small matter in itself. Of far greater importance is the fact that, aside from Obama himself -- and in certain respects, probably more than Obama -- Brennan is the single most critical person in the design and implementation of the government's Murder Program, as I recently discussed. If Brennan does finally head the C.I.A., do you think that would be a coincidence? I do not for a moment believe in coincidences of that kind, especially not with an administration as determined in its lethality as this one.

Think of it: John Brennan, who now is Obama's chief adviser on domestic security and counterterrorism goes to head the C.I.A. I'll tell you what that means to me: Obama and his fellow murderers are absolutely determined to bring the Murder Program home to America, and probably even more quickly that I had previously thought. I described the steps by which that might happen in the second half of the preceding post. [Please do take a look at that. You might find it instructive.] The unfolding nightmare that I described might very well lie in your future, America -- and in the not too distant future at that. Do you care?

To be sure, the administration could achieve the same end with another candidate if it wished, Vickers for example. But to be able to unleash the Murder Program on an even greater scale with the man who knows everything about it, and from his lofty perch at the C.I.A. ... it's a dream come true for these bastards. And that may well be the reason they decided to get rid of Petraeus.
I described further idiocies of the sex scandal cover story here.

Well. I'll have much more about this in the next day or two, when I will also discuss the Hagel nomination.

We often hear about the great values to be derived from "experience." We're told over and over about how crucial "experience" is to our efforts to understand and navigate the world. Among other things, many of the "dissenters" who now champion the Hagel nomination conclusively demonstrate that they have learned nothing from the last four years, including the many lessons they might have absorbed from the career of one Barack Obama. And that's most often the terrible problem of "experience": it's usually entirely wasted.

If it weren't so tragic in this case, and if it weren't far too likely to lead to still greater brutalization, destruction and death, it would be terribly funny. Perhaps we shall be able to extract a few moments of black comedy from our examination of these latest horrors. We'll see....to be continued.