This Post Has No Title, These Words Have No Clue


Akira Takizawa has yet to recognize the gun, the mobile phone, or the fact that he is naked. (Detail of frame from 'Eden of the East', episode 1, "I Picked Up a Prince")

Insofar as a common and significant link ‘twixt the intimacy of driving a knife into another person, to the one, and coital penetration, to the other, is testosterone, the act of shooting the place up starts to seem very nearly masturbatory.

The psychoanalysisα of that proposition is probably as fascinating as it is grim. At some point it seems to denigrate the American shooting crisis while exploiting the very notion of rape culture, and it is easy enough to call any mass-murderer a pathetic wanker. Yet the analogy persists, and it is easy enough to regret, before it is written or uttered, any phrase about shooting his load in public.

Killing is intimate. Killing is also distal.

He can tell her he loves her; she can believe him; it can be true; and the link between this passion he shares and the violence he might commit against another is testosterone.

____________________

α The temptation to dismiss, out of hand, expected pop-culture strains of evolutionary psychology according to their obvious weakness presuming coital penetration as inherent to the existential justification of sexual differentiation, would be erroneous in at least one context, as the apparent fault becomes at least symbolically relevant; to the other, invoking semiotic values might be an overstatement. But where the pop strains of evopsych would discuss men evolving to penetrate women, Y previously evolved, and, indeed, continues to this day to adapt and select and evolve, not as delivery unto X, but as environmental distribution of gamete for X. Where human males may have specialized for gamete delivery, this is merely specialization of gamete distribution. And while it is true enough that word games are easy, and phagogenesis could, artistically, at least, be argued an intimate precursor to general environmental gamete distribution, the greater danger is the potential for evopsych to finally recognize the argument that masculine raison d’être really is to be a wanker.

Personal Reflections on Politics and Priorities


The Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol building.

Let us speak of love and life and the beauty of this Universe.

What? Oh. Right. Sorry.

Look, to the one it seems really simple; to the other, we all have people in our lives who will, when they don’t like the obvious implication of an obvious fact, chuff and puff and stutter: “Wh-wha-what? What are you talking about? What does that even mean?” The thing about this behavior is that except for the fact of contention, these people in our lives know damn well what we’re talking about, and if there is any confusion about what it means, they’re certainly tipping their hand by going from zero to attack in zero-point-two-one-seven-three seconds. You know that common tease, “Struck a nerve, there”?

Sometimes it seems tragic: Perceived competitive pressures can seem so permeating in and of the perspectives subscribing to or advocating its processes and outcomes as to inhibit normal, healthy social function. More accessibly: Capitalism escalates mental health risk factors. Or, more generally: People who believe in or advocate the dog eat dog rat race can fall into it so deeply that their social faculties degrade into dysfunction.

And sometimes we think, “Huh? But you knew what this meant yesterday. And you even believed it last week!”

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On Christian Faith, American Politics, and Some Specific Human Conditions


It’s just one of those things: Can we laugh, now?

After all, some issues really are serious, and no matter how laughably absurd we might find a moment, well, it never is laughable if we find ourselves in the middle of it all.

Bryan FischerIn response to the influx of Central American children fleeing to the southern border of the U.S., the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer is repeating his belief that all national borders were determined by God and therefore anybody who crosses them without permission is directly offending the Creator.

In a column for BarbWire today, Fischer writes, “What we learn from the Bible is that borders are God’s idea, and that such borders are to be respected. They are not to be crossed without permission.”

(Blue)

To the one, come on, that’s absolutely laughable. To the other, it would not be a particularly reliable promise that laughing our way through the current refugee crisis at our southern border would be an exercise of any useful function.

Right Wing WatchTo a third, one might notice that Mr. Fischer is invoking God’s judgment for earthly authority; we might imagine that his explanation of “what would Jesus do?” would be rather quite interesting. Especially considering the fact that Fischer’s exception to the rule is war.

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Blue, Miranda. “Bryan Fischer: ‘Our Southern Border Is There By God’s Design'”. Right Wing Watch. 10 July 2014.

A Note on Future Presidents


It will take me a while to find a copy of the decades-old Doonesbury strip that leaps to mind, though I’m thinking it was the late Jerald terHorst and the long-running joke about future presidents.

Rep. Peter T. King accused President Barack Obama of “undermining the authority of future presidents” to engage in military action in a scathing statement issued following Obama’s Rose Garden speech Saturday.Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

Obama said he would seek an authorization for the use of military force against the Syrian regime in response to the widely-reported use of chemical weapons, but King, a New York Republican and former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, blasted that move.

“President Obama is abdicating his responsibility as commander-in-chief and undermining the authority of future presidents. The President does not need Congress to authorize a strike on Syria. If Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians deserves a military response, and I believe it does, and if the President is seeking congressional approval, then he should call Congress back into a special session at the earliest date,” King said in a statement. “The President doesn’t need 535 Members of Congress to enforce his own redline.”

(Lesniewski)

It is not that we are unfamiliar with the defense of future presidents and presidencies, but this is something of a twist.

Juxtapositions


David Horsey - August 24, 2011Juxtapositions are often fun. Dramatic sarcasm, all sorts of punch lines. It does help, though, if the pairings are not arbitrary.

So let’s give it a try.

David Horsey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for SeattlePI.com, considered yesterday the domestic politics of the American role in Libya. And while the article actually is quite interesting, part of his advice for liberals struck me as odd:

… the vision of neo-cons like Paul Wolfowitz was not as wrongheaded as many on the left contend. In the 1990s, Wolfowitz and others in conservative think tanks developed their own domino theory: a move toward democracy in one Arab country would lead to a toppling of dictators in many Arab countries. Yes, trumped up excuses were used to justify the Iraq War in an attempt to start the dominoes falling, but that does not change the reality that the theory has proven to be correct.

The idea of a domino effect is not in itself absurd, that much is true. But Wolfowitz, PNAC, and other neoconservative hawks pushed for a belligerent imperium; the idea that the United States could foment this change through belligerent agitation of the Muslim world is a bit less clear. Indeed, the proposition at least equally risked increasing anti-American sentiments not only in those nations, but also at home and around the world.

We might, then, juxtapose Horsey’s proposition against a certain other notion—that the Arab Spring came about in large part because of economics. In April, the Financial Times opined:

The fundamental dysfunction of Arab countries is that of the rentier state. In oil- and gas-rich countries, natural resources return far more than it costs to extract them. Capturing and controlling this surplus – economic rent – is the chief source of enrichment, hence both the means and the end of power. Meanwhile the tragedy of resource-poor Arab countries is that they create rent artificially when nature has given them none. Monopolies, regulation and bullying all serve to limit access to productive activity, which generates fantastic rewards for a favoured few at the cost of holding back whole nations.

Whatever the source of the rent, the rentier economy is a vicious cycle in which the concentration of economic opportunity and that of political power fuel one another. This is why dignity and livelihood are inseparable in the demands of the excluded Arab majorities that have finally raised their voice. It is also why the political revolutions across the region will succeed only if matched by economic transformations. Even as Egypt and Tunisia grope for political transitions, the economic challenge is urgent.

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The land of the what? The home of the who?


Is this really what we’ve become? Glenn Greenwald explains:

Decadent governments often spawn a decadent citizenry. A 22-year-old Nebraska resident was arrested yesterday for waterboarding his girlfriend as she was tied to a couch, because he wanted to know if she was cheating on him with another man; I wonder where he learned that? There are less dramatic though no less nauseating examples of this dynamic. In The Chicago Tribune today, there is an Op-Ed from Jonah Goldberg — the supreme, living embodiment of a cowardly war cheerleader — headlined: “Why is Assange still alive?” It begins this way:

    I’d like to ask a simple question: Why isn’t Julian Assange dead? . . . WikiLeaks is easily among the most significant and well-publicized breaches of American national security since the Rosenbergs gave the Soviets the bomb. . . .

    So again, I ask: Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?

    It’s a serious question.

He ultimately concludes that “it wouldn’t do any good to kill him, given the nature of the Web” — whatever that means — and reluctantly acknowledges: “That’s fine. And it’s the law. I don’t expect the U.S. government to kill Assange, but I do expect them to try to stop him.” What he wants the Government to do to “stop” Assange is left unsaid — tough-guy neocons love to beat their chest and demand action without having the courage to specify what they mean — but his question (“Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?”) was published in multiple newspapers around the country today.

Christian Whiton, a former Bush State Department official, wasn’t as restrained in his Fox News column last week, writing:

    Rather, this [the WikiLeaks disclosure] is an act of political warfare against the United States. . . . .Here are some of the things the U.S. could do: . . .Explore opportunities for the president to designate WikiLeaks and its officers as enemy combatants, paving the way for non-judicial actions against them.

I emailed Whiton and told him I’d like to do a podcast interview with him for Salon about his WikiLeaks proposal and he replied: “Thank you for the invitation, but I am starting a trip tomorrow and will be on a plane just about all day.” I replied that it didn’t have to be the next day — I’d be happy to do it any day that was convenient for him — and he then stopped answering ….

It was only Tuesday that various guests, including former NSC Director for Defense Strategy Kori Schake and former Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, explained on KCRW’s To the Point that there wasn’t anything particularly significant about the latest WikiLeaks release, save for its volume. Still, though, we see journalists like Goldberg, or former Bush administration officials, suggesting severe actions against WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

Are we really—really—so frightened by information? Would we support other nations that attempt to suppress public information about what the governments are doing? Would we not protest suggestions that whistleblowers should be assassinated or imprisoned as enemy combatants?

What ever happened to “the land of the free and the home of the brave”? How is it that “transparency” has become a political buzzword in the United States? More than bombs and bullets, it seems information brings night terrors to some, who feel that truth is anathema, and those who seek it ought to be punished harshly.

People don’t want transparency. They want someone to blame, to hate, to condemn. This is a fairly common psychological phenomenon; as people feel more and more alienated by the world around them, they seek some means of exercising a degree of authority. To blame and condemn satiates the hunger for a time, but that satisfaction is fleeting. For the Goldbergs, Whitons, and other warmongers of our age, the missions abroad have been disastrous blows against their identity politics. To admit and accept that the Iraqi Bush Adventure should never have happened, and the mission in Afghanistan was played to lose from the outset, is too great a burden for their identity complexes, so they must find someone or something to blame for every appearance of failure and injustice; the something is truth, and the someone is whoever brings it.

This is what we’ve come to. This is what we want. What I can’t figure, though, is why.

Gutter politics


w/apologies to Jimmy MarguliesThe back story: RNC Chairman Michael Steele criticized President Obama for engaging a land war in Afghanistan. (Where is Wallace Shawn when you need him?) The DNC, through spokesman Brad Woodhouse, responded with a press release saying that “Steele bets against our troops, roots for failure”.

Thus prefaced, read on. Glenn Greenwald explains:

As The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes, and I couldn’t agree more: “this is Karl Rove’s playbook. I don’t care how often Republicans do it — this blog is not on board with this kind of thing from either party.” Indeed, at The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol revealingly echoed the DNC, demanding that Steele resign for his “affront” to the soliders. Ironically, there was just a vote on war funding last night in the House, and numerous Democrats — 93 of them on a mild anti-war measure and 22 on a stronger one — voted to end the war in Afghanistan, many arguing exactly what Steele just said about the futility of the war. Do the DNC’s Rovian insults mean that these anti-war Democrats are also guilty of wanting to “walk away from the fight against Al Qaeda,” “undermin[ing] the morale of our troops,” and “betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan”?

Replicating the worst of the GOP rhetoric is unfortunately not limited to the DNC. Over on the front page of Daily Kos, Barbara Morrill ends her post about Steele’s comments this way: “What the family and friends of those who died or those who are still fighting there today think is, of course, another story.” A couple of months ago, Jonathan Alter and Keith Olbermann both suggested that criticisms of Obama weaken the U.S. and thus help Al Qaeda. Last October, both the DNC and some progressive groups accused Steele respectively of “siding with the terrorists” and being “downright unpatriotic” because he questioned whether Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize was merited.

I understand and even accept the need to use the other side’s rhetoric against them, though once you start doing that, you forever forfeit the ability to complain when it’s used against you. More to the point: the 2006 and 2008 elections proved that this “against-the-Troops/cut-and-run” rhetoric is now as ineffective as it is ugly. That’s why the GOP lost so overwhelmingly in those elections while relying on those smears; why would the DNC want to copy such ineffective tactics?

No, really. It’s come to this. Read the whole thing. Or, if you really can’t be bothered, and absolutely need the capsule, here you go:

When the DNC, a front page Daily Kos writer and Bill Kristol all join together to smear someone with common language for opposing a war, it’s clear that something toxic is taking place. By all means, the ludicrous hypocrisy and illogic of Steele’s attempt to place all blame on the Democrats for this war should be screamed from the mountaintops . . . but equating war opposition with disrespect to the Troops or cowardice is destructive and stupid no matter who is doing it.

Yes, ’tis true that Michael Steele is exactly the sort of disgrace who can only ever speak truth as a clodhopping political ruse, but there is no reason for respectable society to dwell in the gutter with him.

(Image credit: Apologies to Jimmy Margulies.)