May 30, 2014

As I Consider the Possibility of Eviction...

Many thanks to the nine people who have donated in response to the preceding post. As things stand now, I won't be able to pay the June rent. I guess there's a real possibility I'll be dealing with a three-day notice and eviction proceedings before long.

I understand that most blog readers are solely interested in posts published nownownow, and that anything published even a week or two ago is considered old news. I might be slightly sympathetic to that view if what most bloggers (and twitterers) write was actually new, but of course 99.99% of what's "new" is recycled, erroneous, frequently stupid crap that was recycled, erroneous, usually stupid crap before any of us appeared on this planet. Ah, well. I lost that battle long ago.

Nonetheless, and since I'm still getting my writing legs back after this health-induced hiatus, I was thinking about the hundreds and hundreds of posts lurking in my archives. I also understand that most current readers never venture into the archives. But I thought I'd take this opportunity to direct you to some articles you might find of interest, despite the lamentable fact that they predate Gutenberg. I think these particular entries have stood the "test of time" quite well, if I were to be grandiose about it.

The first post I'll mention is "Applauding Maestro Fleisher -- With Both Hands." It's a particular favorite of mine, and I've been meaning to point it out for a while. The essay concerns an interesting intersection of art and politics; it also provided me a chance to write about an unusually fascinating chapter from an Oliver Sacks book. Because classical music and the piano are great passions of mine (I briefly studied full-time to be a concert pianist when I was a teenager), it was a joy to write that piece. I'm sure almost no one even remembers it.

The next article is "When Awareness Is a Crime, and Other Lessons from Morton West." I discuss a group of courageous and deeply admirable high school students who peacefully protested the (then) ongoing Iraq occupation. The reward for their awareness -- and their willingness to do something about it -- was to be threatened with expulsion. The episode was outrageous and sickening, but it provided an illuminating example of the multiple lessons being delivered to the students, and to all the rest of us, every day.

"'Regrettable Misjudgments': The Shocking Immorality of Our Constricted Thought" is an overview of the sickening superficiality of our "national discourse," with an emphasis on foreign policy. The essay also reviews the history and development of the false and exceedingly dangerous notion of American Exceptionalism.

I had a lot of fun with the next one: "Unreasoning Hysteria as the Default Position: Joan Crawford Does Foreign Policy." The title accurately conveys the subject matter, and I remain inordinately fond of the little speech I devised for Ms. Crawford as she discourses on the complexities of human entanglement.

"Best. Government. Ever." is a sardonic take on the lunacy and idiocy of the FISA bill passed in the summer of 2007. I found it grimly amusing to read it now, after the past year of the "Great Debate" about government surveillance. For those who were paying attention, all of the issues about which every nincompoop has fervently brayed and bleated in recent months were entirely clear at least seven years ago (when I wrote this post), and actually long before that.

Finally, "Unwelcome History -- Religion, the Progressives, Empire, and the Drug War" offers a review of some history which is unknown to most people (including most people who write about contemporary politics). Among other issues, the article discusses the centrality of an "aggressive, evangelical form of pietism" to the Progressive moment of the early twentieth century, and to Woodrow Wilson's presidency and the drive to involve the United States in World War I. That pietism had other grievous results as well, including the Prohibition movement. I include a description of the astounding and startling results brought about by the combination of the ascendant authoritarian state, peitism and prohibition, and the appetite for vicious war propaganda, including one prohibitionist's impassioned declaration: "We have German enemies," he warned, "in this country too. And the worst of all our German enemies, the most treacherous, the most menacing are Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, and Miller."

I note two further points about the articles described above. Not one of them appears in the list of Major Essays on the home page of my blog. In fact, with the exception of the Leon Fleisher essay (which, as I say, I'd intended to mention for a while), I found all of these articles essentially at random -- just following links around, until I came across a piece that made me think, "Yes, that might be a good one to mention." But I could have chosen many others; there are many hundreds more from which I could have made my selection.

Oh, well. Old news, right? Who gives a damn.

So I'll return to planning for eviction, and making sure my cats have homes.

May 28, 2014

With Apologies

Once again, I'm very sorry that I've been silent here for so long. The health woes have continued and accumulated. The last month in particular has been very scary on that front on several occasions. It was all made far worse by the blisteringly hot weather which visited us in Southern California for two weeks. (At least, they weren't consecutive weeks, which I suppose was a small mercy.) A couple of weeks ago, it was in the high nineties for four or five days and even reached 101 one afternoon. The cats and I were rendered utterly immobile.

I've been trying to cobble together a few posts, but I'm finding it very slow going at the moment. In addition to the delays resulting from my health problems, I will acknowledge that I find it difficult to write these pieces because, to the extent they deal with the latest circus surrounding the colossal fraud represented by Lord Greenwald, I am almost incapacitated by my feelings of nausea and immense rage. I don't want to steal too much of my own thunder (I will offer a fairly lengthy argument to make the following case), but c'mon, folks. Lord Greenwald's own PR machine presents him as a serious challenge to the brutal, intrusive War-Surveillance State. But any serious analysis focused on the essential structures of the State and its methods of operation makes indisputably clear that the truth is precisely the opposite.

With regard to the strategies Lord Greenwald has adopted for this spectacle, and given his notable alliance with Omidyar, Greenwald is not opposed to the State in any fundamental way. No. In connection with every issue of consequence, Greenwald is the State. Omidyar is the State. (In the same manner, and as I shall explain, Amazon is the State. PayPal is the State. Google is the State. And so on.) That this is not widely recognized, and that it is not viewed as uncontroversial in the same way two plus two are four is uncontroversial -- and still worse, that many people, including most liberals and self-styled radicals, credit the PR and believe Greenwald's astoundingly outrageous claims to be true -- is eloquent testimony to the shattering stupidity of the commentary class. I cannot think of a more powerful, all-encompassing example of shockingly self-cultivated ignorance and perversely dedicated dumbness in my 66 fucking years on this planet. (Hey, I had a birthday while I thought I might be dying! Yeah, happy fucking birthday to me.)

So I'm working on all that. In the meantime, I have to pay the June rent in several days, as well as a few other first of the month bills (including one for internet service). I only have about half of what I need. So I am truly sorry that I must ask for donations when the writing has been non-existent, but I have no choice; perhaps you can consider a donation to be offered for services rendered and services to come. I am enormously grateful for any support you might be able to offer. I would like to continue the work here for a while longer despite this forced hiatus, which I hope is now coming to an end.

Many thanks as always.

P.S. For those who may have missed earlier articles on these subjects, a listing of my articles has been put together by an altogether magnificent human being: here it is. And here is the listing for Tarzie's articles, and see Tarzie's blog for articles published in the last month or so. You might also consult two recent pieces by Chris Floyd, here and here.